US Poetry magazine comes under fire for publishing piece by convicted sex offender who was jailed for possessing 500,000 child abuse images

 A prestigious poetry magazine has come under fire after it published a piece by a convicted sex offender.  

Poetry, an outlet published by the Chicago-based Poetry Foundation, dedicated the February edition of the magazine to work by current and former prisoners. 

It included the poem 'One Place Is as Good as the Next' by Kirk Nesset, a former Pennsylvania literature professor who was jailed in 2016 for possessing, receiving, and distributing child pornography.


His collection included more than 500,000 images and videos of child abuse that were stored on his computer hard drive and organised into folders based on type, the court heard at the time. Nesset was released from prison last year. 

Poetry magazine published a poem by former English professor Kirk Nesset, pictured, who was jailed in 2016 for possessing, receiving, and distributing child pornography

Poetry magazine published a poem by former English professor Kirk Nesset, pictured, who was jailed in 2016 for possessing, receiving, and distributing child pornography

Social media users have criticized the decision to include Nesset's work and more than 500 people have signed a petition calling for it to be removed, saying his 'time served does not equate to the lifetime of emotional, physical, and psychological trauma victims of child pornography and sexual assault endure'.


However editors have doubled down, saying 'it is not our role to further judge or punish [people] as a result of their criminal convictions'.

Nesset's collection included more than 500,000 images and videos of child abuse

Nesset's collection included more than 500,000 images and videos of child abuse

It added the editorial team were not made aware of the poets' convictions. 

In a Twitter thread defending the decision, the team wrote: 'The editorial principle for this issue was to widen access to publication for writers inside prison and to expand access to poetry, bearing in mind biases against and barriers for incarcerated people. 

'As such, the guest editors didn't have knowledge of contributors' backgrounds.

'We maintain that these poems are an expression of a human experience and that poetry is a force to advance human engagement and critical self-reflection. 

'We hope the poetry in this issue facilitates deep and emphatic reading and extends our discourse.' 

Guest editor Tara Betts added in a Twitter statement: 'I can say that I had no intent to perpetuate further harm. I'm going to be honest about my life. 

The poem is also available on the Poetry website. The author's blurb names his two poetry collections but makes no mention of his convictions

The poem is also available on the Poetry website. The author's blurb names his two poetry collections but makes no mention of his convictions

'I barely escaped being a survivor myself. I've counselled many friends, family members and former students who are survivors, including incarcerated people. 

The cover of the February issue of Poetry

The cover of the February issue of Poetry

'I'm heartbroken about hurting anyone or making them revisit their pain. I'm also devastated by policing and prisons and how these are overtly racist and classist systems that protect property over people. What happens when those hurts overlap?' 

The FBI searched Nesset's home in Meadville, Pennsylvania, home in October 2014 and seized an external computer hard drive. 

An electronic search revealed more than 36,000 items of child pornography stored in one computer file alone, including more than 1,000 images or movies depicting babies or infant. 

Nesset resigned from his role at Allegheny College in Meadville after he was arrested and pleaded guilty last year to possessing, receiving and sharing child pornography.

He was sentenced to 6 years and 4 months in federal prison in 2016. His sentence also included 10 years of supervised release after he served his time. 

Nesset won the Drue Heinz Literature Prize in 2007 for a collection of short stories called Paradise Road.

His biography on the Poetry website says he lives and works in Arizona.  

US Poetry magazine comes under fire for publishing piece by convicted sex offender who was jailed for possessing 500,000 child abuse images US Poetry magazine comes under fire for publishing piece by convicted sex offender who was jailed for possessing 500,000 child abuse images Reviewed by STATION GOSSIP on 06:44 Rating: 5

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