Kirk Nesset is not a victim of the prison industrial complex, he’s a predator

Kirk Nesset is not a victim of the prison industrial complex, he’s a predator

On February 1, POETRY announced it was proud to present its “The Practice of Freedom” issue. They stated was “devoted to the work of currently and formerly incarcerated people, their families, and the artists, poets, and teachers who work in carceral spaces.”

That sounds like some good work, but this issue included poetry by Kirk Nesset.

Yes, Kirk Nesset.

Kirk is a 63-year-old white man. BA in English Literature from UC Santa Cruz and a Ph.D. in English from UC Santa Barbara. 

Kirk is a person with enough privilege to get a tenured English Literature teaching position at Allegheny College, a private liberal art college founded in 1815. He spent 19 years at the institution until he went to prison.

What did Kirk Nesset go to prison for? Kirk Nesset

Kirk has the kind of privilege that after pleading guilty to distributing child pornography and storing “half a million images of child pornography on his computer” then spending five years in prison; he was published—a mere four short months from his prison release in POETRY, a magazine put out by the Poetry Foundation a publication that regularly tells everyone no. 

According to Jezebel, POETRY only accepts 12 percent of submissions.

The Guardian reported that POETRY stated regarding Kirk’s inclusion in the issue that guest editors “didn’t have knowledge of contributors’ backgrounds.” That is pointedly not saying anonymous. 

Does POETRY expect us to believe that no one at POETRY knew who Kirk was and that no one would have bothered to Google? Really?

A widely published, popular workshop facilitator, tenured professor, and translator goes to prison for child porn (pedophilia ) in a highly publicized trial and this individual just happens to end up in POETRY magazine’s prison issue?

And we are supposed to believe that is random? Kirk Nesset

We are supposed to believe that he was just so talented, brilliant, and gifted he rose above all the other submissions. 

That would be funny if it weren’t such an incredulous fabrication of disinformation and his crime were not so heinous. 

I’m baffled how pedophiles and rapists continue to be amplified and indulged in the writing world and the arts in general. How do you rape, molest, kill women and children and continue to be lauded, taught, and published? How does this well to do white man end up in an issue for victims of the US industrial prison complex? He is not a victim.

Black, Chicano, and Native Americans are the voices who should have been amplified in the POETRY “The Practice of Freedom” issue, not a well established white man who dreams of fucking little kids. 

Are rapists and pedophiles oppressed like anti-vaxxers? Is that what this is? Are we archiving their voices in major publications so that future generations can have a warped perspective of boundaries and be open-minded about immoral perversions? Do we really need to encourage the kind of behavior of:

Another vile act of Kirk’s —shortly after getting out of prison, he apparently began submitting to literary magazines under the nom de plum, Damon Macias Moreno. So this violent white predator felt he was not being given a fair chance as a white man and began to adopt a Black/Latino/Asian identity because minorities are taking all the opportunities!

I can not help, but wonder did POETRY create the “The Practice of Freedom” issue specifically to highlight Kirk’s work? A sort of happy release from prison literary party.

“[T]he court was advised that Nesset distributed, received and possessed thousands of computer movies and images depicting minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct. Some of these images and movies depicted infants and toddlers.”


In December just two months after his release from prison Kirk’s alleged alias Twitter account, Moreno, retweeted a poem about a Girl Scout entitled “Thin Mints,” the poem starts:

Girl Scout at the door, a box of Thin Mints in her hand. She is maybe 12 or so. Bangs and peachy lip gloss. The purse against her hip is like the one my mother wore. Cobra skin and golden clasp

“He also indicated he had a preference for girls ages 10 to 13, the FBI said.”

Pittsburgh Post Gazette

The poem “Thin Mints” is fine, but within the context of Kirk’s history, it shows a shockingly bold lack of remorse for his prior predatory actions.

I believe exceptional criteria were used to publish Kirk’s work in POETRY. An exception that entirely violated the spirit of the issue. I feel that Kirk’s work was allowed to be published in “The Practice of Freedom” because of who he knew and who he is. POETRY gave Kirk’s submission white male privileges. It is disingenuous for POETRY to imply that no one knew who he was. POETRY knew who he was, and I suspect they probably hid it from the guest editors until the very last moment and then gaslighted them into being OK with it.

Not even the most odious of white men are refused an opportunity.

Teka Lo, Public Intellectuals

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