The ISP Deceives

The ISP Deceives


ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes


Home    Visit Our Store

Their letters are clearly intended to convey wrong information with the sole aim

of obtaining money. . . . I am free to say that the ILP is unethical, that they operate a scam,

 but I can’t say that they are engaged in fraud without running the danger of being sued



  The ISP Deceives, Misleads, Tricks and Lies  

To Amateur Poets to Get Their Money — Says Charlie Hughes

Ugochukwu Ejinkeonye Interviews Charlie Hughes


Charlie Hughes, formerly Editor of Wind Magazine, and now owner of  Wind Publications, lives in Kentucky, USA. An accomplished poet, short fiction writer, and publisher of creative works, he has been closely observing the activities of the International Library of Poetry (ILP) and its other arm, the International Society of Poets (ISP) for many years now.

In this interview with Ugochukwu Ejinkeonye on July 4, 2003, Charlie Hughes speaks frankly on the controversial poetry body and the bitter experiences of some of their victims who had lodged complaints with him. Excerpts:


Please tell us who you are… your background, and what you do, and why and when you began to develop interest in ISP/ILP? Hughes: I have been employed at the University of Kentucky for over 30 years as an analytical chemist. I am also a writer of poetry and short fiction with nearly 100 publications in literary magazines, and I am the author of Shifting for Myself, a collection of poems. From 1993 until 2000 I served as editor of Wind Magazine, which, though it has a small circulation, is a nationally recognized and respected literary magazine founded in 1972. 

Currently, I am the owner of Wind Publications . In 1998, not long after I had established a website for Wind Magazine, I viewed an ABC TV’s 20/20 news program which reported on the activities of the National Library of Poetry. As a public service, I put a report of this TV news program on my website  along with a second web page admonishing amateur poets to exercise caution when dealing with the National Library of Poetry

Soon thereafter, I began receiving e-mails of complaint from all across the US, as well as other countries, from amateur poets who’d had unsatisfactory experiences with the NLP/ILP. These people felt deceived and betrayed by this organization (and by similar organizations using similar poetry contest tactics for financial gain). 

As I received these people’s stories I began to do a little research and create other web pages to pass the information along– The result is my web page of links to information regarding unethical poetry contests.Do you know a bit of the history of ILP/ and ISP?Hughes: Only rumor. I have been told that they are an offshoot of a poetry contest scam organization which operated back in the 80’s in California called the World of Poetry run by the same fellow who now runs Hollywood’s Famous Poets Society contests. HFP is disreputable enough to even receive a bad report from the Better Business Bureau. The ILP/ISP has in recent years surpassed HFP in effectiveness and profit.Do you think the ISP is genuinely committed to poetry and literature? Hughes: Certainly not. Anyone committed to poetry and literature is committed to quality. The ILP is clearly committed to quantity, not quality — money, not poetry. They will print as a poem anything except profanity, and negative criticism of themselves. If you send them a letter using their on-line form for submitting contest poems, you’ll get an automated letter accepting your “poem” for publication (same letter I sent you in a previous e-mail — everybody gets it automatically). Some of the negative comment poems occasionally get accepted since they seldom read the poems in the books they print. Their computer excludes poems containing certain words, such as profanity and “scam.”But how is it that they are able to draw notable literary figures in the US to their programmes? Hughes: I wish you would contact these literary figures and ask them this question. As an international journalist you may have access to them that I don’t. I have corresponded with a couple of them. I received a cordial response from Steven Dunn, and got the impression that he regretted becoming involved.

These are nationally respected literary figures. They are only involved with the annual conference.

Generally, I do not think they are aware of the day-to-day operation of the organization. Len Roberts is the exception. Because of Roberts’ reputation, he is able to enlist other well-known poets to appear and maybe speak briefly at the convention. I assume that each is paid handsomely for their appearance.

Also, you’ll notice the ILP runs the convention under a different name than the one they use for the contests. The contests are under the auspices of the International Library of Poetry while the convention is run by the International Society of Poets. 

Why does any reputable organization need more than a half dozen different names?

 Roberts told me that he is attempting to make the organization more respectable. I told him that having big-name poets appear at the convention is not the way to accomplish that. 

Respectability can be easily achieved by simply telling the truth to contest entrants. Easy as that. But the ILP wants to purchase respectability rather than earn it. Respectability cannot be purchased, though the illusion of such may be. Now Roberts once told me the  ISP letters are ambiguous, and misleads, and hoped that they shouldn’t be. But don’t you think that many would rather see them as fraudulent, clearly intended to convey a wrong information with the sole aim of obtaining money? 

For instance, ISP in their letter announces that their “POET OF THE YEAR” gets 20,000 dollars. Now, in the next sentence they inform the person of his “NOMINATON AS (that) POET OF THE YEAR” not “AS ‘A’ POET (or one of the poets) OF THE YEAR,” or “TO PARTICIPATE IN THE POET OF THE YEAR CONTEST” as Roberts has just explained  to me now? 

Again, you can’t reply to Steve Michaels until you have registered for the convention. Once you write, your mail WILL bounce back: this way, your efforts to make enquiries  are frustrated. Hughes: I think you’ve answered your own question. I believe their letters are clearly intended to convey wrong information with the sole aim of obtaining money. In the US, “fraud” is a legally defined term. I am free to say that the ILP is unethical, that they operate a scam, but I can’t say that they are engaged in fraud without running the danger of being sued since they have not been convicted of fraud.

“Ambiguous” is putting it mildly. Nobody is going to say, “I’m a crook.” Actually, I think Roberts is a charming fellow. He is the kind of fellow you’d enjoy sitting next to on the bus. He almost had me agreeing with him at one point. I’d like you to get him into the public spotlight and see how he justifies what he’s doing. I’d like to see him meet face-to-face with some of those who have been deceived by the ILP, some of those who’ve had to borrow money to attend the convention and receive their “award,” such as Theresa Coleman whose story is on this webpage or Crystal McGaffick whose story is on this webpage.

For a while I corresponded often with these ladies, but have not heard from them in over a year. Due to shame of having been scammed, many such stories go untold.Now is there no law in the US that could nail someone for deliberate misinformation with the sole aim to getting money from people?Hughes: It is my opinion that the ILP deceives, entices, misleads, exaggerates, tricks, and lies to amateur poets to get their money. It seems to me that at some point, enough of this kind of activity should justify some sort of legal action. However, the ILP does not get enough money from any single person, to justify that person taking action.Have you heard about Noble House Publishers?Hughes: Recent reports on the web indicate that they are an organization operating under the auspices of the International Library of Poetry.Some people have claimed that their addresses in NY, UK and PARIS cannot you take one to them, have you ever attempted investigating this?Hughes: I have no information on this if you mean addresses for Noble House. My “investigations” consist mostly of what I’m able to find on the internet. With all my other activities I haven’t had much time lately to devote to this. Read this on-line discussion on Noble House also here. You can contact Noble House at the address found here.  From what I’m able to read on the net, Noble House seems like the standard vanity publisher — you pay them to print your book. Also, like most vanity publishers, they’ll probably do little else.ILP/ISP claims to have a PRIVACY POLICY, yet NOBLE HOUSE is able to obtain  people’s addresses and other personal details submitted to ISP/ILP on trust? Hughes: First, I would not believe any privacy policy stated by the ILP. Second, if Noble House is an arm of the ILP it’s still in the family– still private.Can ILP/ISP be sued under any US laws for this clear breach. And can ILP/ISP be held responsible for any offence committed against any by NOBLE HOUSE since they link people to them? 

Hughes: I doubt that the ILP can be successfully sued by any individual. I’m told that they have a bevy of lawyers working for and with them. They are masters of doing just enough to satisfy legal requirements. You send them money and they send you a book of contest poems, as promised. 

So what if they said it was going to be a beautiful and artistic book — that’s in the eye of the beholder.People don’t understand the difference between a publisher and a printer. Even the dictionary isn’t clear on it. 

A publisher pays for production of the book, including promotion and distribution. A printer simply prints the book. Noble House may call themselves publishers, as do all vanity presses, when, in effect, they are simply printers– printing a number of books for a fee.  I think it is possible, with sufficient public outrage, that local or state governments might take action against the organization in the public interest, as they did several years ago against Publishers Clearing House in New York. 

Unfortunately, poetry is not a high-priority item in this country.You have seen ILP’s books, can you assess the  production cost? Hughes: I have not seen the book. I have seen pictures of them and they have been described to me, as having 300 or more pages, each page having 6 to eight poems, and being constructed of inexpensive materials. Having been the publisher of several books, I’d estimate that the production cost of such a book would be less than $10. However, in my opinion, cost is irrelevant. 

What’s in question is how the poems in the book are obtained, and the manner in which they are sold. All that is accomplished using deception. How come ILP/ISP were able to register as Better Business outfit in Maryland? Hughes: The Better Business Bureau is not connected with any city, state, or national governmental organization. The BBB in each city or locale is an independent organization which operates under a national umbrella organization, in the same manner that franchise restaurants operate. 

Therefore, each local BBB, is operated in a different manner. Any organization can become a member of the BBB simply by applying and paying dues. Dues are accessed based on the size and financial dealings of the organization. 

The ILP does enough business that they pay big dues. The Maryland BBB is therefore not apt to issue a negative report on them. In addition, my impression, from what I’ve read on the web, is that the Maryland BBB is one of the poorer BBBs in protecting the public from unethical businesses 

*   *   *   *   *’s 25 Best Selling Books



#1 – Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark #2 – Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree #3 – Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane #4 – Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper #5 – Stackin’ Paper 2 Genesis’ Payback by Joy King #6 – Thug Lovin’ (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark #7 – When I Get Where I’m Going by Cheryl Robinson #8 – Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby #9 – The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 – Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 – Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 – Don’t Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 – For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 – For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 – Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 – The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 – Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 – Purple Panties: An Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 – Stackin’ Paper by Joy King

#20 – Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 – The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 – Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 – Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 – I Dreamt I Was in Heaven – The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter


#1 – Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable #2 – Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans #3 – Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane #4 – Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper #5 – Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You’re Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant #6 – Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey #7 – The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight #8 – The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing #9 – The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 – John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 – Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 –The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 – The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 – The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 – Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can’t Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 – Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 – Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 – A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 – John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 – Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 – Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 – 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino #23 – Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul by Tom Lagana #24 – 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 – Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

*   *   *   *   *

Super Rich: A Guide to Having it All

By Russell Simmons

Russell Simmons knows firsthand that wealth is rooted in much more than the stock  market. True wealth has more to do with what’s in your heart than what’s in your wallet. Using this knowledge, Simmons became one of America’s shrewdest entrepreneurs, achieving a level of success that most investors only dream about. No matter how much material gain he accumulated, he never stopped lending a hand to those less fortunate. In Super Rich, Simmons uses his rare blend of spiritual savvy and street-smart wisdom to offer a new definition of wealth-and share timeless principles for developing an unshakable sense of self that can weather any financial storm. As Simmons says, “Happy can make you money, but money can’t make you happy.”

*   *   *   *   *

The New Jim Crow

Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

By Michele Alexander

Contrary to the rosy picture of race embodied in Barack Obama’s political success and Oprah Winfrey’s financial success, legal scholar Alexander argues vigorously and persuasively that [w]e have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it. Jim Crow and legal racial segregation has been replaced by mass incarceration as a system of social control (More African Americans are under correctional control today… than were enslaved in 1850). Alexander reviews American racial history from the colonies to the Clinton administration, delineating its transformation into the war on drugs. She offers an acute analysis of the effect of this mass incarceration upon former inmates who will be discriminated against, legally, for the rest of their lives, denied employment, housing, education, and public benefits. Most provocatively, she reveals how both the move toward colorblindness and affirmative action may blur our vision of injustice: most Americans know and don’t know the truth about mass incarceration—but her carefully researched, deeply engaging, and thoroughly readable book should change that.—Publishers Weekly

*   *   *   *   *

The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

*   *   *   *   *

Ancient African Nations

*   *   *   *   *

If you like this page consider making a donation

online through PayPal

*   *   *   *   *

Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues

1950        1960        1965        1970        1975        1980        1985        1990        1995        2000 ____ 2005        


*   *   *   *   *

The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery /

George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

*   *   *   *   *

The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 — The Founding of Haiti 

*   *   *   *   *


*   *   *   *   *






update 16 December 2011




Home  Ugochukwu Ejinkeonye Table   Mau Mau Aesthetics


Related files: Poor poetry rich deceit  The Phrasing Of ISP Letters Is Misleading

Post Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.