Even if I were to believe your new version of the time line, you solicited work from me. After doing so, you failed to champion it with your publisher, you neglected to tell me that I was competing with none other than the person who solicited me, told me the art director was having his friend do the cover, which now looks like a lie, and went about this entire business in a way that does not befit a person of moral fabric.
Your admonition falls on deaf ears.
It is very unfortunate that things ended up the way they did, and I am sorry that I ever got involved. At this point, for all of my faults, my commitment to what might be called the poetic community is unquestionable, I think. I am known as a person who, at the very least, is generous with his time. This generosity burns me from time to time, this being one of them. I have nothing to gain from libeling you. In fact, it hurts me. I lose a friend, and Anchiote, who I hear is a press made of good people, will probably never want to work with me.
We all end up looking like jerks, but I was just trying to help a friend when she asked. No matter how you look at this, I am the one who has been slighted.
P.S., This email will be posted on my blog because I am dedicated to chronicling my failures as much as my accomplishments.
My name is Avik Maitra, and I'm a good friend of Mia You's. I'm also a designer, and I too helped Mia with this cover. I designed a few versions of the cover (also with birds) many many months ago. My designs weren't used either.
From the very beginning, Mia and the press had decided to go with an image of a single bird on the cover. Also from the very beginning, Mia had been pushing for her wire bird, but the press had been suggesting for some other bird paintings.
As designers, we're not always privy to the conversations happening by those that solicit our work, especially when there are multiple parties involved. I think your cover is awesome (better than any of the crap that I did), and I ask you to not be so harsh in your attacks on Mia.
The bird thing is irrelevant at this point, but I was never told about it. The bird thing is weird, but fine; call it coincidence.
I have been a designer for over ten years now, and there are ways of doing things so that stuff like this doesn't happen. My problem has never been that my design wasn't used. My problem is that I tried to help a friend out and was screwed for my trouble.
The conversation should have been something like this:
Jack, a lot of artists are doing birds. Draw or don't draw a bird. Birds aren't working for this project. Also, I did this wire bird thing that I really want and am pushing for the cover, so if I can get that through, your work is worthless and will be thrown away. I will not push for your work because I am already championing my own.
Instead it went something like this:
Jack, please help me. Read my chapbook and design a cover. I will show it to the art director.
I don't mean to say that this is very uncommon in the design world. But it is always ugly when it happens, and I didn't expect it from Mia.
Hi again Jack,
To me, there's a difference between unpaid work done generously as a favor to a friend and paid work done as a professional designer. It seems that we were both working in the former model. In that case I'm not exactly sure how either of us could have been screwed.
I'm also not sure why you're so reluctant to give Mia the benefit of the doubt. From what I can tell, Mia approached you because she and the press weren't able to agree on a cover—the one designed by the art director's friend or the one designed by Mia's friend Floris. Mia obviously asked you because she respects your work and was hoping that you could provide a third, better option; it doesn't logically make sense for her to ask you to work on the cover if she was going to keep pushing her own bird. Ultimately, the press selected the cover designed by Floris.
Anyway, it seems that you're eager to move on from this misunderstanding... and that's exactly what this nonsense seems to be, a misunderstanding. I just feel that it's dangerous to accuse Mia of plagiarism and of slighting or screwing you.
Your experience was very different from mine, and I applaud you for defending your friend.
The benefit of the doubt was given and wasted. If you don't think this whole thing looks dodgey, I don't know what to tell you.
I was also rudely brushed off when I tried to talk to her about this nicely in person. At any moment, an apology would have assuaged my anger, but none came.
You can feel like something is dangerous if you want to, but it sure looks like there's been some plagiarism going on. But it's not like she's at West Point. Harvard kids get caught plagiarizing all the time and nothing happens; I doubt her current University cares what a lowly blogging poet like me has to say about the covers of chapbooks or the business practices of the people behind them.
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