A Forum for Vigorous Debate, Cornerstone of Democracy

[For the journal (guidelines, focus, etc.), go to www.theamericandissident.org ]. If you have questions, please contact me at todslone@hotmail.com.
Encouraged censorship and self-censorship seem to have become popular in America today. Those who censor others, not just self, tend to favor the term "moderate," as opposed to "censor" and "moderation" to "censorship." But that doesn't change what they do. They still act as Little Caesars or Big Brother protectors of the thin-skinned. Democracy, however, demands a tough populace, not so easily offended. On this blog, and to buck the trend of censorship, banning, and ostracizing, comments are NEVER "moderated." Rarely (almost NEVER) do the targets of these blog entries respond in an effort to defend themselves with cogent counter-argumentation. This blog is testimony to how little academics, poets, critics, newspaper editors, cartoonists, political hacks, cultural council apparatchiks, librarians et al appreciate VIGOROUS DEBATE, cornerstone of democracy. Clearly, far too many of them could likely prosper just fine in places like communist China and Cuba or Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Russia, not to mention Sweden, England, and Austria.

More P. Maudit cartoons (and essays) at Global Free Press: http://www.globalfreepress.org

Monday, September 13, 2010

Harris Gardner

Harris Gardner, Another Little Caesar CensorAbout a decade ago I met Harris Gardner at the Jack Kerouac Festival in Lowell. I was manning a table for The American Dissident in the small press area. Gardner and Jack Powers were the bosses of that area. I recall Gardner sneering down at a book I had on the table: FUCK MASSACHUSETTS. He chatted with Powers. Both questioned me as to whether they should permit me to keep the book there because, well, it might anger their puppet masters. Gardner is one of thousands of little caesar censors in the literary world. His principle concern is obtaining cash from the state politicos so he can dole it out to his literary cronies.

What of course viscerally disgusts me about Gardner, besides his evident disdain for vigorous debate and democracy, are his hypocritical statements. “The poets are today’s prophets,” he blathers. “Poets should be examples of social consciousness, and awareness.” But awareness of what? The viewpoint discrimination effected by the likes of Harris? And what is social consciousness, being conscious of PC and its nefarious campaign of censorship and indoctrination?

“Poets are social critics, and social criticism is one part of the art,” he states, while excluding me from his National Poetry Month because of my evident rude-truth social criticism. But for Harris some social criticism is clearly taboo because it inevitably denounces his ilk.

“Political poetry is only a problem when it becomes a rant,” he continues. Rant, of course, is key! Anything apt to expose Gardner's hypocrisy would have to be dismissed as RANT!

“If it is done well, it still is poetry,” he states. Done well? But according to whom? The real-estate-broker, friend-of-the-Chamber-of-Commerce Gardner?

“You can have political poetry that uses metaphor without shaking a fist in someone’s face,” he argues. But how not to “shake a fist” in his face? And who would want to hide the fist behind metaphor?

To be invited to read at the Boston National Poetry Month Festival, one has to actually pass Gardner’s “audition,” as he terms it! Am I fucking dreaming? How did it ever get so rotten in the world of poetry? Where the fuck are the other barbarians? With flaccid bagel-bards like Gardner at the helm, the barbarians should be storming the gates in hoards!


mather said...

I like the chamber of commerce rosary.

G. Tod Slone said...

Thanks for the comment, M! Glad you understood that part. Nobody else dares comment, but, as mentioned, when someone googles the dude, this post and cartoon will surface and be part of his internet CV.

Spencer Troxell said...

The poet is like a butterfly. The poet is today's toaster strudel. The poet must bend towards the understanding of absolute understandingness, while remaining alert to the rice of the proletariat.

The poet must speak words, and sometimes those words will rhyme.

That is all.

Spencer Troxell said...

Oh, I forgot to mention:

The poet must understand that progress is the milk of a dead horse sitting at a bottle-cap breakfast table somewhere out in the desert.

there are many people who would like poetry to join theology in the ranks of the non-subject.

G. Tod Slone said...

Well, that's all fine and dandy, Spencer, but what about these poets who decide what is good and what is bad, who to invite and who to ostracize. That's what I'm talking about here. The human filters of the divine.

Spencer Troxell said...

I understood your thrust, I just didn't care about that part as much. I'm more annoyed with people who claim to be making solid, objective arguments (your 'awareness of what' line). 'Poets are today's prophets' is a self aggrandizing statement that doesn't actually mean anything.

Regarding Gardner not letting someone talk at his poetry gathering, or write for his magazine or whatever, I say who cares? Start your own magazine. Find a magazine more sympathetic to your presentation. Have your own festival. That's the free market for you: nature, red in tooth and claw. I'm sure you reject people for your magazine, and I'm sure that if you had a festival, you would have subjective standards that would influence who you let speak.

G. Tod Slone said...

Yes, the myth of the poet as some grandiose demi-god of sorts is nonsense! It too irritates me, especially when I see the kind of poets dressed in laurels.
Spencer, you missed the point big time here: Gardner's National Poetry Festival is publicly funded. Because of that, viewpoint discrimination ought not to be permitted. If it were his un-publicly funded festival, sure, I'd agree with you.
You're also quite wrong regarding the IF I had a publicly-funded festival, I'd do as Gardner does. On the contrary, I would be wide open to hardcore debate at such a Festival and openly encourage it.
Thanks for the response.

Spencer Troxell said...

I don't know if I think every publicly funded gathering should have an open mic. I think the idea is that there should be some accountability for how tax-payers dollars should be spent. If I somehow got my shitty hobby garage band on the main stage during a publicly funded concert, I would think some people might be upset.

I don't know this guy is, and I'm completely willing to believe that he's a vanilla flavored, self important hack, but that's the kind of guy I would expect to organize a public event. Completely inoffensive, and bent on putting up speakers who will reward our sesame street sense of self. That is the fate of the tax payer funded public event: It has to appeal to everyone and no one.

I do think your public festival sounds interesting, and I would be interested to attend it. I do think, however, something like that would have to be privately funded (at least until it proved marketable).

G. Tod Slone said...

Well, it's not a question of having an open mike, but rather one of allowing a small percentage of the paid invited poets to be openly contrarian, and by that I don't mean the fakes like Gary Snyder or Robert Pinsky, who speaks at Thoreau events in this dubious town.
You're on target RE publicly-funded events AND art and writing for that matter.

Spencer Troxell said...

'...it's not a question of having an open mike, but rather one of allowing a small percentage of the paid invited poets to be openly contrarian...'

You're right. Failure to allow dissent certainly highlights the hollowness of the self-proclaimed rebel-poet. It also casts into caricature the self exaltation.

There's a George Orwell quote that I think is appropriate here:

" Many people genuinely do not wish to be saints, and it is possible that some who achieve or aspire to sainthood have never had much temptation to be human beings. "

G. Tod Slone said...

I got a laugh on the Orwell quote! You've got a very good way of putting things at times: "Failure to allow dissent certainly highlights the hollowness of the self-proclaimed rebel-poet. It also casts into caricature the self exaltation."

Spencer Troxell said...

I meant to say, '...their self exaltation.'

G. Tod Slone said...

It's likely more of a backslapping exaltation. In other words, friends and admirers do the exalting as in today's Washington Post vis-a-vis Seamus Heaney: "famous and esteemed," "an eminence," and "remarkably gifted." Then we read the sample lines from Heaney's new book and don't quite find the reason for the exaltation:
"Derek Hill's saying,
The last time he sat at our table,
He could no longer bear to watch
The sun going down
And asking please to be put
With his back to the window."