From The Editorial of Issue #36
[...] In any case, the front cover of this issue was inspired by a New York Times article,“How CUNY Became Poetry U,” written in blind praise of university poet/prof prize-winners, by Elizabeth A. Harris:
The City University of New York is many things. It is vast. It is accessible to students without a lot of money. It is exceptionally diverse. It is not, however, particularly fancy, the kind of place that oozes exclusivity or prestige. And yet CUNY is home to a surprising number of extremely accomplished, recognized—some might even say fancy—poets.
Harris of course is incapable of wondering what precisely “accomplished” and “recognized” really tend to mean, as in coopted, conformed, and castrated. Moreover, “accomplished” is clearly a subjective, not an objective, term. “Accomplished” for Harris might imply “sellout” for someone else. And “recognized,” but by whom? Well, by others who are likely also “recognized.” To reach the “accomplished” and “recognized” poet status, clearly, one must not be a rare poet who goes against the grain of the academic/literary establishment. CUNY chancellor James B. Milliken (see front cover) argued,
I’m not sure that ‘fancy’ is the key to creativity. CUNY has to be one of the most diverse universities in America, and it seems self-evident to me that diversity of all kinds contributes to creativity. Add to that the fact that we’re in New York City.
“Diversity of all kinds”? Hardly! Certainly not diversity of opinions regarding CUNY’s backslappery. Featured from left to right are Harris; Elizabeth Lund (WaPo), Tyehimba Jess, Pulitzer English Prof, College of Staten Island; Kimiko Hahn, PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry, Prof, Queens College; Ben Lerner, MacArthur Fellow, Prof, Brooklyn College; Poet Laureate Billy Collins, Prof, Lehman College; Alison Hawthorne Deming, Pulitzer Jurist Social Justice Prof, University of Arizona; and Wesley McNair, Pulitzer Jurist Poet Laureate of Maine. [...]