On Jan. 16, the Globe and Mail reported that Coach House Books, a small but respected Canadian publishing house, was temporarily placing its poetry program on hiatus. “It’s a challenging time in the poetry world and publishing poetry is always difficult and we just want to take a step back and consider how we do that and just think through our mandate, our procedures our policies,” Alana Wilcox, the publisher’s editorial director, told the paper. Coach House also stated there would be no layoffs as a result.
But absent from that story, and from public comments from the publishing house, was any mention of the status of Jeramy Dodds, an award-winning poet who serves as one of Coach House’s most high-profile poetry editors and a member of its editorial board. Dodds is also a Coach House poet.
Multiple sources have told BuzzFeed News that Dodds is no longer working at Coach House, and that his employment status, as well as the publisher’s decision to place its poetry program on hiatus, is the result of anonymous accusations of sexual harassment being leveled at Dodds. These allegations are contained in an anonymous email sent to Wilcox and others from an account calling itself “CanLit Janitors,” as well as an anonymous letter that makes harassment, discrimination, and assault allegations against more than 20 men who work in Canadian media and publishing. One woman is also cited in the letter.
None of the allegations have been substantiated or proven in court, and as of this writing, no one has come forward publicly to corroborate them on the record.
Dodds did not respond to multiple requests for comment, nor did Wilcox or Coach House Books. However, Wilcox previously reached out to a BuzzFeed News reporter with an email that suggested she was aware of the existence of allegations against Dodds, and that she believed an article about them would soon be published.
“I understand from CWILA [Canadian Women in the Literary Arts] that you’re set to publish your list of shitty men. Jeramy Dodds is one of our poets, and is one of our poetry editors,” Wilcox wrote. “I suspect it’s uncool to ask, but I would be eternally grateful if you could tell me when the article will run, and ideally what the allegations are and how far they reach. I really need to protect our other authors and especially the ones he’s been working with.”
In a statement to BuzzFeed News, CWILA’s board chair, Erin Wunker, said the organization “did not receive or circulate” any such information about Dodds or a possible news story about him.
The allegations against Dodds and the possible change in his employment status come after the US saw its own “Shitty Media Men” list circulate, as well as the #MeToo movement, where women in all industries have been sharing their stories of sexual harassment and assault.
Dodds has been a writer-in-residence at the University of Calgary, the University of New Brunswick, and Berton House. He has also been nominated for the Griffin Poetry Prize, and won the Trillium Book Award for Poetry.
On Nov. 16, BuzzFeed News received an anonymous list of Canadian media and literary men detailing allegations of sexual harassment, assault, and abuse against them. Dodds was present on the list. On Jan. 13, an anonymous sender under the name CanLit Janitors sent an email to Wilcox at Coach House Books, listing various allegations against Dodds.
“Coach House Books is an invaluable institution in this community and we want to see it remain a safe space for the writing of young women, which it has not been for some time,” the email said. “We are thereby asking that Jeramy Dodds be removed from his post as Poetry Editor/Editorial Board Member and that Coach House Books create a new or redevelop its existing harrassment [sic] policy and make that policy public.”
Three Coach House authors who spoke to BuzzFeed News said they had each received a phone call from Wilcox since she received the CanLit Janitors email. In the calls, Wilcox explained that Dodds was no longer working for Coach House, they said.
“She let me know she couldn’t provide me with too many details during the phone call, but that Jeramy Dodds was stepping down as poetry editor to protect the press because some allegations had recently come to their attention,” said one author, who like the others asked not to be named. “A lot of the women I spoke to that are afraid of Jeramy or have allegations to bring against him, they’ve all told me he’s threatened to bring legal action to them.”
Another author said they received a call on Jan. 15 and that Wilcox mentioned allegations of sexual harassment. A third said Wilcox called to say that she had received “an anonymous tip” about Dodds’ alleged behavior.
As of this writing, Dodds is still listed as a Coach House poetry editor on its website.
BuzzFeed News will continue to follow this developing story. The writer can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Scaachi Koul is a senior culture writer for BuzzFeed News and is based in Toronto.
Contact Scaachi Koul at email@example.com.
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