A Forum for Vigorous Debate, Cornerstone of Democracy

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A FORUM FOR FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND VIGOROUS DEBATE, CORNERSTONES OF DEMOCRACY
[For the journal (guidelines, focus, etc.), go to www.theamericandissident.org ].
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.

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

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Provosts... of Business as Usual


This brief comment was written as a response to Idaho State University Provost Gary A. Olson’s article appearing in The Chronicle of Higher Education (http://chronicle.com/article/The-Academic-Job-Search-and/64861/?sid=wb&utm_source=wb&utm_medium=en) this week. In vain, I attempted to post it. Thus, I sent it and the cartoon to Olson. Will he respond? Of course not! As for the cartoon it was drawn a while ago, instigated by a different article penned by Olson.
Rather than business-as-usual passive acceptance of a dubious policy, why not actually question and challenge the policy? Professional references, as they’re called, act as certificates of safety and conformity. Is that what the nation needs in academe of all places? In other words, those three letters of recommendation certify a candidate to be apt not to question and challenge the academic machine. They certify him or her to be apt to turn a blind eye in the face of institutional corruption. They certify him or her to be a team player (black-gowned herd member) not apt to question the team and not apt to “go upright and vital, and speak the rude truth in all ways” (Emerson). Those three letters assure business as usual in the one place where business as usual ought to be shirked: academe, the nation’s intellectual core!

What ought to be done is eliminate the three letters and replace them with a simple police-background check. Or why not three letters that stress a candidate’s courage and critical nature, as opposed to his or her likelihood of being sheep-like?

It really does perturb me to read this provost’s article because it really does underscore how hopelessly bad it’s become in the ivory tower. Wall Street has not only taken over the government, it’s taken over the nation’s colleges and universities too.

“Whether the candidate had any skeletons in the closet that would come back to haunt the university [or rather university’s image]” becomes the sole concern for persons like Olson. But screw the damn university! Bring back truth and democracy! Get rid of PR and the deans and students of PR! We need to get rid of business-minded and trained provosts and replace them with truth and courage-minded provosts.

Oh my, what if we hired a man or woman apt to go against our comfortable grain, buck the system that’s been feeding us so nicely, and otherwise question the Faustian pact that’s enabled us to have such nice homes?!

The problem is that "people who engage in this kind of amateur detective work” (i.e., seeking damaging info against someone on the Internet) really don’t end up shooting themselves in the foot. They end up climbing the academic ladder yet another rung or two!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Gary Snyder

The following is an excerpt from Contention: Conversations with the Established Order and Other Parodias de Discursos.

I tried to read Synder but couldn't get into anything he wrote. But in poetry reputation is what matters not what you write. There is also something askew when a counter culture poet gets on some council, its like he's been given the good housekeeping seal of approval.
—Dave Ochs

Stand alone to decry censorship in the midst of a herd of incoming poets, professors, and poetophiles, and expect not one herd member to support your cause. On the contrary, the literary mass will likely chuckle in harmony, scorn a tad, chuckle again, then dismiss you as an egotistical attention seeker. In the skull of that literary mass, a myriad of reasons will ferment to justify inaction and consequent acceptance, if not outright support, of censorship.

It wasn’t like I hunted for trouble. Illogical nonsense was ubiquitous in America. Step out of the house and there it was sticking its drooling tongue out at you, provoking you to respond, that is, if you had failed the happy-face, positivist citizen indoctrination test. Or even just stay in the house, and there it was mocking away at intelligence. In any case, a correspondent informed me that a poet had just croaked: “Well todd mo/ ore is dea/d did you he/ ar? Check this ridiculous letter that Moore wrote Scot Young.” So, I checked it out and ended up writing and posting a comment. That seemed to have become my profession: comment poster. But the comment was censored. America today was educating an army of little caeser censors obsessing over possible offensiveness, while ever rationalizing censorship and truncation of free speech and expression. The brave new world was here now. Some called it PC.

A back and forth email battle had ensued with Fred Wright because the censor, Scot Young, had sent my comment to him. Moore’s buddies and family were attempting to canonize him. But now the only hope for the poor fellow was a post-mortem Robert Creeley Award, though that hope was a dismal one because, to date, not one post-mortem had been designated. Moore had paraded around as one of the “outlaw” poets, yet he’d spent most of his life as a tenured high-school English teacher and hadn’t even spent a day in jail. Hell, I’d spent a day and so had Henry D, but we weren’t “outlaw” poets. Villon was an “outlaw” poet, spent time in a donjon for murder, was almost executed, and deserved the designation.

It was about 6:15 and still with plenty of daylight. Spring was just around the corner. It had seemed like the longest, coldest winter I’d yet experienced. I was like a bear just out of hibernation partly stunned by the sudden warmth in the air. First, I stopped off at the local library to dump off some DVDs, then headed to the next town over, got lost, then found my way again, and pulled into the lot. I’d prepared a broadside, reworked it a number of times and even drew a cartoon for it. Thanks to friend Dan, I had 50 copies to distribute. Dan had been inviting me to his English classes once every semester for the past three years. Amazingly… astonishingly, he was actually using The American Dissident in those classes.

My protest was against tenured professor poet chancellor beatnik Gary Snyder, who was going to read and receive the Robert Creeley Award. Creeley had lived in Acton before he’d kicked the bucket. Now, he was comfortably enshrined in the literary canon.

A male-female couple about my age, looking definitely like they were going to the reading, were walking ahead of me. They entered the school. I stood outside the doors. Then soon they walked out of the school and were standing in front of me.
—So, you’re the guy hanging up fierce things on poets!
—So, it’s not here?
—No, this is the junior high. The high school is down the road.
The grayish-blond haired woman did the talking and pointed down the road. Several years before I’d protested against the John Ashbery reading. The couple walked on back to the lot. I followed them. The woman had a thick accent.
—Did you say, fierce?
—Yes. Fierce.
—Well, that’s a first. I’ve been called lots of things, but never “fierce.”
—Someone I know was concerned about you.
—You mean that I might have a gun or something?
—Yes. Something like that.
—Well, I suppose I could say the same about that person or you for that matter. So, you’ve seen me before?
—Yes, I’m William Creeley’s widow.
—Ah, so you’re the woman who cried after seeing that cartoon I sketched and distributed?
—Yes.
She didn’t seem angry, just aloof—bourgeois aloof. The boyfriend or friend or whomever remained silent, though seemed to be listening. He had short gray hair, was well-groomed and attired, and definitely looked the part of the proverbial academic poet—no fangs, no rough edges, just proper word craftiness, probably a former hippie turned established order. Clearly, neither he nor she had any interest whatsoever in my protest.
—You know, I wrote something about you just this morning. Another poet died and everyone was praising him. But I didn’t like the guy, so criticized him. And, of course, that upset the poets. One of them wrote: "next time, send condolences to a person's family instead of desecrating his grave before they have even put him to rest." But I figured since they were pushing for canonization, they should be prepared for not just happy-face commentary. If the family really wanted peace, it shouldn’t have been pushing the fame button. So, of course, that reminded me of you.
She didn’t respond. Perhaps she didn’t quite understand. But evidently the same thing pertained to her husband, who she’d help canonize with the Award.
—Are you Deutsch?
—No, I’m from New Zealand.
They walked over to their car, while I to mine and without good-byes or see-you-laters. Last time I'd protested in Acton, the gala was indeed held at the junior high school. So, maybe Snyder was higher up in the bourgeois poet-pecking order than Ashbery, since his reading was at the high school.

Students were hanging around mostly in little groups by the front doors, where I planted myself like an unruly cactus. Now and then, mommy or daddy arrived to pick some of them up. I placed my two small placards against the wall: HATE FREE SPEECH, LOVE CENSORSHIP, MOVE TO CHINA! and DEMOCRACY NEEDS MORE THAN SMILEY-FACED POETRY! On the door was a little sign indicating the Snyder reading. Creeley’s widow and beau were pacing around, probably waiting for someone. Eventually, they were standing in front of me, though not really out of interest. The beau seemed hyper-timid, even somewhat fearful, kind of like a handsome squirrel. I opened my mouth. What the hell.
—No curiosity?
—What do you mean?
She seemed to have a difficult time concentrating on my presence as a human being. She really didn’t look at me at all, not even when she spoke to me.
—Well, you didn’t want to take a flyer.
—Oh, I’ll take one. Why are you protesting?
—Well, simply put, Snyder’s a censor, that's why. I’m a fervent free speech advocate and against censorship. If they censored you, I’d be here right now at your side to lend support.
—Well, I don’t think anyone would want to censor me. My son is a free-speech lawyer.
—Well, that’s interesting. I really do have a passion for the subject, especially regarding colleges and universities.
—Have you ever heard of FIRE?
—Sure, I’m in contact with them periodically. It’s a great organization.
—Well, my son works for them.
—Well, that’s interesting.
It was as if somehow by proxy what the son did made her important. She was not interested in any further details regarding Snyder. She’d folded up the flyer and had placed it into her pocket without even looking at it. No doubt the nearest garbage bucket would be in for a treat.
—His name is Will Creeley.
—Ah, yes, I know the name.
—He’s a poet too.
She looked at the beau, so evidently didn’t mean the son.
—Yeah, well, poets are probably all over the place right now.
The beau smiled in agreement. How not to think of the Quebecois term, platte. Indeed, he was as platte as it got. Bourgeois platte. And she was as platte as it got. Bourgeois platte. They disappeared into the building… platte. No good-byes and no see-you-laters. Poets and poetophiles were now arriving in a constant flow.
—Protest against the poet!
—Really? Come on, now.
—Why, isn’t that possible?
—Take it easy, dude, I’m just surprised.
Well, he at least took a flyer and smiled. Was Snyder that bland? A young high-school student walked up to me, stood in front of me, and actually held out her hand and with a big smile.
—Could I please have one?
—Really?
—Yes, we’re having a poetry reading tomorrow in class.
—Well, then you’ll have to mention my protest.
—They’d kill me!
She took a flyer and scooted off to where her two friends. Poets and poetophiles kept arriving, flowing by, and into the building. If popularity was a measure of greatness, then Snyder had probably achieved it. But if popularity was only a measure of inoffensiveness, nicety, and not going against the established-order grain, then Snyder was perhaps a lousy poet, though a popular one.
—Curiosity is the first step to enlightenment!
—Thank you, sir.
—Thank you, mam.
A woman approached and stood in front of me. The light of familiarity suddenly glowed inside my head.
—May I have one?
—Ah, it’s Madame Le Poutine!
I hadn’t seen her in 15 years, more or less, but recalled her name because of its Quebecois origin. Once upon a time, she was one of my adult evening students at Fitchburg State and had even slapped the make on me suddenly in her car one evening. But that was as far as it got. She appeared quite surprised, laughed, fully recognized me, and stood by my side for a while, waiting for a friend. Well, that was nice, an ally of sorts. We chatted while I intermittently inserted a “Protest against the poet! Protest against censorship!” She was curious. Most were not curious.
—Why are you protesting against Snyder?
—Well, he’s a member of the Academy of American Poets, which censored and banned me.
—Really? What did you do?
—Well, I didn’t do anything. I just expressed an opinion they didn’t like. Should poets be into the censoring business? I didn’t threaten anyone, nor did I use four-letter words.
—Do you know Marie Ponsot?
—Never heard of her.
—She just became a chancellor. She’s 85 years old and a very good poet. She's a friend of mine.
—Good poet? Of course, she must be "good," but "good" at playing the game. "Good" for you ain’t likely gonna be "good" for me.
—What do you think poets should do then?
—Poets should speak truth, that’s what they should do. They shouldn’t be playing established-order games and climbing ladders all the time. A good poet should be a truth teller, not a blind-eye turning careerist!
—You must like doing these things.
—Well, I do sort of get a jolt of adrenaline, but actually I don’t like doing them. I have to force myself to do them. Who wants to drive 10 miles to see a bunch of scorning free-speech hating faces? My experience tells me that not one person here will even respond to my flyer.
—So why do you do this then?
—For free speech and democracy. There’s a principle involved. And you probably won’t understand that.
—Oh, I do.
—Can you believe someone actually said I might be dangerous?
—Well, I know. I’ve heard that too. People think you’re angry.
—I’ve heard that a lot. But weren’t the Revolutionary Patriots pissed off or were they smiley and happy?
—Yes, but angry isn’t always good.
—Well, it’s always good for democracy. And why should happy be good? Take a flyer! Here, take one, it’s free! Why are poets so incurious?
The pod of passing poets and poetophiles didn’t want to take flyers. My temporary ally actually tried unsuccessfully to interest a couple of them.
—Come on take a flyer.
—See, they’re not curious.
Then her friend arrived and she suggested I write.
—Why don’t you email me?
—Well, why don’t you email me?
—Is it on the flyer?
—Yes. And let me know if he does his Smokey the Bear poem.
They entered the building, and that would probably be the last time I’d see or hear from her. How to make the bourgeois understand? It was simply not possible. Ole Harry Haller couldn't do it. So how the hell could I do it? Well, they couldn't understand. That was why they were bourgeois. Droves of them were arriving, passing by me as if on a merry-go-round. It was a free reading. And free always meant droves. It was free thanks to the state cultural councils. Even the Concord Cultural Council was paying, yet the event wasn’t even in Concord. I was in Concord, but it wouldn’t give me a cent of a grant.
—Protest against Snyder! Take a flyer!
—But I like him! I don’t want to read a protest about him.
—Now, that’s a good one! Blind poets are just like blind Obama-philes. They just don’t want to see. Here, take a flyer!
—If he’s writing poetry, he’s okay!
—Well, I’m writing poetry too, but evidently I’m not okay.
The dude disappeared into the building without taking a flyer. Why did so many poets seem to experience such difficulty with basic logic? How did it get that way?
—Protest against Snyder! He’s a censoring chancellor!
A passing poetophile chuckled, then another chuckled, then another.
—We’re for free speech too!
—Sure, tell me about! Free speech for you, but not for me.
—Thank you!
—Well, thank you.
Then a pod of dowdy, hefty females arrived chuckling at me and refusing to take flyers. Probably from Concord Poetry Center. Then another pod arrived and another wave of chuckling. Free speech protest and censorship had become a chuckling matter in bourgeois circlets. On the ground, I spotted a rolled up bill. I picked it up. A buck, my payment for service to democracy! Whoopee. Another passing pod chuckled.
—Protest against censorship! Take a flyer.
—No, thanks!
—Today you chuckle at censorship! Tomorrow we’ll have dictatorship, and you’ll damn well deserve it!
No coppers were in sight. Usually the coppers arrived.
—Free flyer!
At about 7:15, I ran out of broadsides. Yet still waves of poets and poetophiles were arriving. So I began handing out AD flyers. I watched the kids run around the lit-up track on the embankment across the parking lot. It had slowly gotten darker. It was a beautiful spring evening. I breathed in the scented air.
—Spring! Spring is here! Ah, Beatniks! More Beatniks! Protest against Beatniks!
They chuckled. Well, at least I could amuse them.
—Ah, here comes a couple of Beatniks! Protest against Beatnik Censor Chancellor Tenured Poet Professor Snyder! Here come more Beatnik poets! Whoopee! Protest against Beatnik Snyder!
—Why?
—Because he’s a censor. He belongs to a censoring academy.
But the poet or poetophile just chuckled and walked by.
—Yes, chuckle away! And soon we’ll have censors all over the place! Well, I guess you must be a Beatnik.
But the kid was only about 20 years old and looked at me like what the fuck are you talking about. I wonder if he even knew what the word beatnik meant. Snyder was cocooned in fame. It was difficult to penetrate that kind of armored veneer. I doubted he’d even get word of my protest. Well, I did email the broadside to his university address. They must have shuffled the old bugger in through the back door. I didn’t even get to see him. Interestingly, three different high-school kids had approached me separately and actually wanted flyers. “You must really have great teachers,” I’d said to one of them. Well, the gods were with me. The gods wanted me to protest. If it had been the night before during the great deluge, I wouldn’t have bothered showing up. Longhairs and beardos and typical dumpy older females kept flowing into the building. Another day of confirmed total alienation would soon be over for me. At about 7:30, I walked back to the car, my black shadow preceding me on the pavement. I opened the door, got in, and drove the hell out of there, while the poetry legend was probably being applauded by professors, politicians, town leaders, town businessmen, librarians, prize judges, students, and of course Great Book readers.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Experiment in Free Speech and Democracy

Open Letter to University of Richmond, English Department
In case your comfortable, academic protective cocoons have kept you unaware, allow me to inform you that democracy in America is on a steepening decline. With that regard, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has designated the University of Richmond, your university, a "red-light university" because it contains at least one policy that both "clearly and substantially restricts freedom of speech." Have any of you done anything at all to question and challenge the policy or policies in question? Or are all of you simply in a state of blissful apathy? What's the difference between a diverse ostrich-head-in-the-sand faculty of blacks, whites, Asians, and Latinos and an all white ostrich-head-in-the-sand faculty? Well, not much difference at all with perhaps the sole exception of PC. In any case, columns like Mama PhD (Professor Libby Gruner), published in newspapers like Inside Higher Ed, tend to question and challenge little if anything at all of substance. Please do examine the cartoon I sketched on Gruner aka Mama, PhD and comment: wwwtheamericandissidentorg.blogspot.com.

Cowardice, careerism, and consequent self-censorship are rampant in higher education, which is, after all, the very intellectual core of the nation. Vigorous debate, democracy’s cornerstone, is anything but vigorous in the nation’s corporate co-opted colleges and universities, and has been largely replaced by dogma, political correctness, collegiality, careerism, and team playing. All of you likely support this nefarious, pitiful status quo either willingly or by inaction. Gruner’s column is an egregious example. The various experiments in free speech and democracy I’ve performed over the past several years on college and university English departments confirm these statements.

A copy of this email was sent to your student newspaper, since experience dictates the likelihood of a response from any of you to be nil. However, I also expect, given the sad status quo, that the student newspaper is likely a kept newspaper. Indeed, its student editors are likely sycophants and team players, as opposed to individuals with courage. Thus, they too will likely not respond. BTW, your student newspaper staff is by far the largest I’ve yet come across. However, does quantity necessarily translate into quality? Since the paper has a handful of sports editors, why does it not even have one democracy editor to test and report on the murky waters of democracy at the University of Richmond?

Finally, since most persons these days tend to be career and curriculum-vitae preoccupied, why shouldn’t some of us be citizen and democracy preoccupied? These things said, why not invite me to speak to your students and faculty? I have no criminal record and do have nearly 20 years of full-time university teaching experience in both France and the US. Why not also consider subscribing to The American Dissident? The 501 c3 nonprofit journal would provide your students with a refreshing non-happy face, non-PC alternative view of things in academe.

The following are the emails of the professors, student editors, and others contacted: To: editors@mamaphd.com; bashe@richmond.edu; acheever@richmond.edu; ddance@richmond.edu; jessid@richmond.edu; tgivens@richmond.edu; egruner@richmond.edu; bhenry@richmond.edu; dhickey@richmond.edu; rhilliar@richmond.edu; sjones@richmond.edu; plurie@richmond.edu; jmacalli@richmond.edu; eoutka@richmond.edu; kpelleti@richmond.edu; epoore@richmond.edu; arussell@richmond.edu; lschwart@richmond.edu; mwadman@richmond.edu; dstevens@richmond.edu
Cc: editor@thecollegianur.com; maura.bogue@richmond.edu; barrett.neale@richmond.edu; emily.baltz@richmond.edu; nick.mider@richmond.edu; jimmy.young@richmond.edu; jacki.raithel@richmond.edu; jill.cavaliere@richmond.edu; guv.callahan@richmond.edu; ashley.graham@richmond.edu; elizabeth.hyman@richmond.edu; fred.shaia@richmond.edu; anna.kuta@richmond.edu; avril.lighty@richmond.edu; mary.morgan@richmond.edu; stephanie.rice@richmond.edu; michelle.guerrere@richmond.edu; monica.demartin@richmond.edu; mariaelisa.ribas@richmond.edu; margaret.finucane@richmond.edu; jordan.trippeer@richmond.edu; maura.bogue@richmond.edu; liz.monahan@richmond.edu; steve.minnich@richmond.edu; elizabeth.hardy@richmond.edu; zachary.stewart@richmond.edu; doug.lederman@insidehighered.com; KMM104@psu.edu; dorn@mail.usf.edu; nicodeme@westliberty.edu; reader@ohio.edu

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Big Money & Public Money Usually Support Obedience and Conformity


Normally, sites that censor do not interest me at all, and that includes Rattle and Poetry Foundation, which refuses to even list The American Dissident with other journals listed. With all its millions of dollars, one ought to wonder just how much Poetry Foundation serves as established-order censor. Evidently, The American Dissident must be INSUFFICIENTLY TASTEFUL for it (see below). In any case, two people suggested I check out Tim Green’s latest blog (see http://timothy-green.org/blog/2010/03/open-letter-to-the-poetry-foundation/comment-page-1/#comment-2863), a hagiographic piece on Poetry Magazine and its staff. My response to it was this essay, which was posted on Rattle, but censored by Green. A critical poem I wrote on Poetry Magazine, a while ago, appears after the essay.

If the citizenry ceases to question and challenge, ceases to think out of the conformist paradigm, preferring instead the comfy pathway of group positivism, the nation is lost. And I think it is lost today.

Green’s essay is indeed an example of base flattery, something that seems to have become very, very prevalent in our dying democracy. I’m not sure if I’ve ever read anything quite so transparent.

As for Ruth Lilly, who dumped $100,000,000 on Poetry Magazine, one can only assume that her education (and money) failed to shape her into a questioning and challenging citizen. Instead, she became yet another blind worshipper of established-order (bourgeois) poesy. Read about her money: “most unethical drug company on the planet” [see www.oralchelation.net/data/Lilly/data6.htm]).

“Beautiful in production,” notes Green regarding Poetry Magazine which is, however, very simple in design and format. “Beautiful” implies extraordinary.

“Poetry Magazine is tasteful,” notes Green. Now, what might that mean? Innocuous? Inoffensive? Bourgeois? PC? Evidently, it's come to mean BOURGEOIS. But should poetry be daintily “tasteful” or should it rather stand up on its hind legs and decry the bourgeois corruption ever trying to smother society in “tastefulness”?

“Tastes are subjective, but tastefulness isn’t, and you’re tasteful,” notes Green, again in praise of Poetry Magazine. But the statement is clearly a non sequitur and idiotic at best. How can one possibly go from the subjectivity of "taste" to the purported objectivity of "tastefulness"? Even if a particular "tastefulness" is shared by the whole of the bourgeoisie, that does not by any means render it an objective trait. It is truly amazing to think that colleges and universities, including the one that graduated Green, might actually be teaching students that "tastefulness" is somehow an objective quality.

“To top it off, you’ve made the outwardly generous, inwardly smart decision to give it all away online, for free,” notes Green, again in praise of Poetry Magazine. One must really wonder how Green's professors managed to fail him so royally. Evidently, his professors would have to ask how their professors failed them so royally. With 200 million dollars in the bank, how can putting up Poetry mag online even remotely be considered generous? An independent mind would rather ask why Poetry constantly beggars for subscriptions. With 200 million, it shouldn’t be charging anything at all for anything.

Quantity seems key to persons like Green, whose corrupted logic would conclude that 30,000 subscribers must equal greatness. What it really equals, however, is POPULARITY and INOFFENSIVENESS. It also implies that the so-called literate populace fears criticism and knows it ain’t gonna find it in Poetry Mag.

“And I’m good,” notes Green about himself. Yet reading his essay on Poetry Magazine, one would really have to conclude the opposite! Evidently, Green is the product of today's educationist emphasis on giving students positive feedback for just about anything they do... or don't do.

“Jealous criticisms,” notes Green regarding anything critical of Poetry Magazine. Yet how easy, lazy, and typically uncreative it is for him to dismiss criticism with an epithet. It reflects the multicultural, PC way of doing things today. Just call it a name... and thus ignore the criticism, even if valid. Only a lazy mind could dismiss all criticism of Poetry Mag as “jealous.”

In his essay, Green makes only one seemingly valid point: spreading the money, instead of dumping it on one organization. But would that have changed anything at all? No. Because the money still would have likely remained in the hands of established-order literature and literati. Thanks to Wiman and others of his ilk, students will continue yawning during their university poetry classes because 99% of their professors will never expose them to poetry as a sword, as opposed to poetry as bourgeois tea and crumpet wordsmithery. As for NPR, can it possibly get more bourgeois? NPC would be a better name for the organization, as in National Political Correctness. Who can bear even listening to those voices?

The real sadness with so much money concentrated in so few hands is that it will inevitably determine what poetry shall be read and what poetry shall be forever buried. Any poet daring to go against the money grain will be buried. Period. Poetry does not NEED to be supported, as Green stipulates. Supporting poetry kills poetry by helping to keep it bourgeois in taste and substance.

Now, do you think Wiman will respond?


From… Not One of Them
If you’re one of them, you’re either “great” and “brilliant”
or on the way to becoming “great” and “brilliant,”
for they man the helms of the grant-according machines
and occupy the literary posts of the nation’s universities
that accord such designation.
If you play their game and try your damndest to become
one of them, they might not make you wealthy, but they’ll
surely succeed in making you revered and well off—
not bad for a poet… or is it?

If you’ve been one of them, they’ll likely post-mortem you
on the front cover of one of their well-endowed magazines.1
If you’ve been one of them, and haven’t yet croaked,
but are on that verge as ambulating poet posterboy corpse,
they’ll devote a whole back cover to something you once wrote,
no matter how inane or trite, as in
“living is a meatloaf sandwich.”2
If you’ve been one of them, but are still midstream careerist,
they’ll eagerly publish one of your self-serving rants where
you mention the diverse nationalities of the bards
sitting upon your comfortable oak desktop, while declaring
“the truth is that the creation of art is laborious,” though you
create it with a $150,000 annual university salary, not to
mention the six or $700,000 in foundation grants.3

Now, as one of them and with a recognizable name,
they’ll even publish one of your divinity tirades
where you omnisciently declare that if one chooses not to
“call light and energy by the name of God,” one will sadly
“lose bearings,”4 which of course leaves me hopelessly lost.

Finally, if you’re not one of them at all and don’t even wish to be,
you’ll truly have to create laboriously, for without their money.
And they’ll likely either never have gotten to read, see, or hear of you,
though, if by odd chance they have, be assured they’ll hold
nothing but deprecating scorn for you.
……………………………………………………………………
1In this case, Poetry magazine (March 2009)
2The words are John Ashbery’s and featured on the back cover of Poetry, March 2009
3C.K. Williams
4Fanny Howe