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Thank you and Guy Raz for your even-handed article on me and my latest book of poems (“The Anti-Poet,” 4/2).

I hope you’ll let me correct a few errors of fact: My new book, Please, Lord, Make Me a Famous Poet or at Least Less Fat, is not my “sixth self-published book.” It is my sixth book, but my first self-published book. The other five were published by others. In two cases I helped pay expenses, and in two other cases I took over the books months after publication, but they were not self-published. Nor is our press a “vanity press.” There’s a distinction between self-publishing and vanity press. A vanity press is paid to publish books for the author to display on a coffee table, give to friends and family, and, rarely, sell. Vanity presses do not market. A self-publisher does what any “real” publisher does: gets the books in stores, sells them, gets them reviewed and distributed, etc. My book is carried by Ingrams and other distributors and has received several trade reviews. Distributors don’t carry vanity press books.

Contrary to a quote in the article, I do edit my work, often and rigorously, though consistent with the spirit of the quote, I don’t always wait for some mythical finality before reading or printing a poem.

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A footnote in my book is cited to attribute to me the notion that since 1970 the World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH) has been run by the CIA. Actually, that footnote does not mention the CIA, nor do I contend that the CIA runs the current mental-health establishment. I don’t have enough data to say that. I can say that the field of psychiatry has always been funded mainly by governments and foundations, minimally by paying patients; and, certainly, the entanglements of the various mental-health organizations with the CIA over the years have been numerous and complex, the most infamous (in the ’50s) being the case of Ewen Cameron, then head of the WFMH, whose experiments at McGill University in Montreal (deep-sleep “therapy”—patients kept under by barbiturates for days while receiving electric shock, various drugs, and taped messages) were financed by the CIA. The patients, of course, were not told that they were part of an experiment. Volumes have been written on this and related subjects (Acid Dreams, books on the CIA’s MKUltra program, etc.), but I can’t document—nor do I contend—that the CIA runs “mental health.”

Regarding my claiming that “before 1970, the ‘World Mental Organization’ [sic—my footnote refers to the World Mental Health Organization, also the wrong name—my error] was run by Nazi-trained doctors,” the most detailed and best documented study of the role played by German psychiatrists in the Holocaust and the influence of those same psychiatrists upon postwar psychiatry is The Men Behind Hitler by Dr. Thomas Reoder. Psychopolitics deserves more attention than it has gotten in the press. There are some fascinating tidbits. For example, no newspaper that I’ve seen has mentioned that Slobodan Milosevic was a patient (as recently as 1991) of psychiatrist (now war criminal) Radovan Karadzic, who helped him handle his depression. Slobodan is doing so much better now.

Reston, Va.

via the Internet