I am in a unique position to comment on this development, as I am both a poet and a lawyer who practices in the area of media law from time to time. Based on Johnson’s blog post, I don’t think he should be worried… assuming the letter he says he has received actually exists.Allen concludes, as i thought, that there's no legal precedent for defamation in this particular case. however, that doesn't mean that the Koch Estate can't make shit difficult for Kent Johnson and Richard Owens of Punch Press.
however, more people are asking the question "is the letter even real?" and still no letter has been produced. i'm still not making any assumptions for sure at this stage, but so far this seems to reinforce my suspicions that the letter doesn't exist (or rather, doesn't contain the content that we are to believe it contains).
to be clear, Richard Allen does include this update at the end of his post:
Richard Owens at Punch Press sent me a copy of the letter. Its contents, and some other information I received, have convinced me that it’s real. Owens has asked me not to comment on the contents of the letter for now, so I won’t, although there’s certainly more to be said.so, perhaps the letter exists, but really, this is even more suspicious. quite notably absent from Allen's update is any kind of verification that the contents of the letter actually match the initial allegations.
also, i forgot to comment yesterday on this particular bit of hyperbole. this comes from John Latta's blog one day after this small press claimed to have received a letter that has yet to be produced:
Why there’s essentially no evidence of outrage forthcoming out the mouths of any of “our” “major” post-avant “playas” at such thuggery and attempt to censor: aucune idée. Toff pedigree of the careerist self-satisfy’d swell, one suspects. These days swoll’n—like a magpie—beyond all honor.this is such a rediculously prematurely ejaculated attempt to indict the entire barely affiliated community of "post-avant" poets for not expressing immediate outrage at the utterly unsubstantiated claims of some small press.
there has been absolutely no substantiated developments that warrant any kind of outrage from anyone at this time. publish the letter, let it circulate a week or two, wait to see where people's alliances fall, then maybe you can start drawing lines. otherwise, this is just a waste of all our time.
if this letter turns out to be legit, i'm totally with Kent and Punch Press on this one. but i'm already beginning to resent this attempt to get people blame an entire loosely associated poetry aesthetic for the utterly unsubstantiated actions of a couple of (alleged) assholes. i believe "disingenuous" is the word i keep using.
more developments here and here (Kent's links).