Croatoan Response to Poetry Foundation Discussion

by on Oct.11, 2011

[The Croatoans wrote this in response to recent legal wranglings and the recent discussion here on the blog. As before, I can’t vouch for any of these claims, and I would like to hear from people with different views of the events to write in. If you want to see the discussion this post refers to, you can just skip down a few posts.]

We have been trying to refrain from the conversation here as much as possible—especially the more petty back-biting shit—but there are some points that really must be clarified. Most importantly, we want to bring everyone up to date on the outcome of Stephanie Dunn’s trial—though it really wasn’t much of a trial to be sure. Despite our efforts and those of anyone who wrote to the Poetry Foundation to ask that they drop the charges, two representatives from the Foundation showed up in court. Steph was late, due to a series of (sort of comical) mishaps. When she arrived, she was informed that there was a warrant out for her arrest (issued in the short time that she was late for the court date) and was brought before the judge. The judge informed Steph that she was accused of “running around yelling and screaming and groping patrons against their will.”

Having been a witness of and participant in our spontaneous protest that night, I can assure everyone that I was the only patron that Stephanie ‘groped’ that night, and it certainly was not against my will. There was attempted disrobing, and behavior that might be considered. Gulp. …lude or even… sexual (if mostly slapstick). It didn’t seem like there was much of a choice when one of the security guards informed us that “pda’s” are not allowed in the poetry foundation. As far as the yelling and screaming is concerned, this only began when the security guards started being physically intimidating and preventing us from leaving peacefully, which we tried to do. One of the security guards basically tackled Steph (pretty extreme behavior for an ‘usher’) and, as I imagine a lot of us would do in this sort of situation, she took a swing at the bully in self-defense. The judge made clear to Steph that the Poetry Foundation was ‘very serious’ about the charges—which, to correct information in an earlier post, was ‘public disturbance’ rather than ‘disturbing the peace’—and had insisted that the judge prosecute to the full extent of the law. Taking the Po Foundation’s request to heart, the Judge set the trial date for eight days later and told Steph that in the mean time she could ‘think about it in jail’.

Let’s be clear about this: The Poetry Foundation went out of its way to put a poet in jail. Trying to refrain from editorializing too much here, but everyone reading this should think about this point. Anyone that has any understanding of poetry ought to understand that jailing/imprisonment is one of the most fucked-up things that people do to one another. It is an assault on one’s soul. In fairness, I’m sure that these representatives of the Po Foundation have stayed on Johnny Law’s good side their whole lives and have no clue what jail is like so perhaps they knew not what they did.

She was promptly handcuffed and carted away for processing. Strangely, nearly every cop in the station expressed how unbelievable it was that she was being sent to jail for this and that they had only ever heard of other cops pursuing a public disturbance charge. As she was being handcuffed and fingerprinted, a public defender came into the police station and tried to get Steph out of this ridiculous bind. Miraculously, the public defender was able to work out a plea bargain for three months court supervision on the condition that she plea guilty. Quite understandably, Steph sacrificed her ability to defend her actions (at least in the legal realm) in order to avoid jail time. It was made pretty clear that the judge would find her guilty no matter what. It has always been perplexing to me as to why this sort of pressuring by the courts isn’t seen as coercion. So, that’s how that wound up. Steph no longer has any legal recourse so, we feel that the only thing we have left is spreading the word about this whole thing.

If anyone is still curious about what went down the night that all of this began, there will be a more detailed account in the next issue of Sous les Paves ( ), which will be coming out soon. To briefly summarize, the whole thing started when Stephanie broke a plastic cup on the floor. A woman approached us and told us, in this patronizing tone, that we should be more careful because the floors cost 300,000 dollars. From that point, until the cops carted her away, Stephanie and I engaged in a spontaneous protest in which we were attempting to highlight and satire some of the things that we found disgusting about the Poetry Foundation, its 20 million dollar building, and the strict rules of decorum there. Mostly, though, we were only having fun and being lively. The Po Foundation, apparently, didn’t get the joke. When they attempted to use force (violence, both real and implied) in reaction to our harmless lampooning, protest, whatever, Stephanie refused to be silenced and bullied. When they went so far out of their way to try to send Steph to jail, the whole tone of this situation changed. We had no idea that this cultural institution would be so eager to involve the police and the courts in such a vindictive and reactionary manner. Croatoan

66 comments for this entry:
  1. Gene Tanta

    I’ve been thinking about how the arrest of poetry (what’s more poetic than goofing off with a point?) by the Poetry Foundation is such a clear example of the failure of Humanism. (Humanism drew it’s last breath when corporations were awarded legal status as individuals.) Like any moral code, the ism of the Human fails to act ethically all the time.

    How do we compare the legal rights of corporations with the legal rights of un-papered immigrants (or the moving parts of the mass migrations of Chinese workers)? What is the appropriate context in which to have this conversation? Poetry blogs? The Hague? Guantanamo Bay? The streets (which we own, because we paid for them)?

    I think we need to admit that the category of “the Human” is bankrupt and start thinking about what rights mean for ourselves and for others as global citizens.

  2. Dale Smith

    This is all so absurd and outrageous. Roberto Bolano and co. used to go to readings and spill their drinks on the fancy suits of the established literati (I believe he poured his wine on Paz–ha!) I don’t think Bolano was ever prosecuted for his acts of literary adventure. By contrast, The Poetry Foundation gains little by prosecuting Dunn, but the symbolic gesture of doing so resonates with an odd chill. It’s hard not to correlate Dunn’s performance in front of the Poetry Foundation crowd with what’s happening now in Zuccotti Park. Clearly there’s an air of simple outrage and intervention rising up between institutions with access to abundant resources and individuals for whom such access has become increasingly scarce. In U. S. society now we’re being asked to take sides and make the right choices. Shame on the Poetry Foundation for prosecuting Stephanie Dunn.

  3. Edmond Caldwell

    I was at Occupy Boston last night when the cops crushed the second encampment, and I think that Dale is absolutely right to note the connection between the OWS movement and the Croatoan group’s protest. I’m reminded of all the nitpicking criticisms that the group’s actions came in for in the comment-threads here, because the equivalent last night would have been, say, critiquing the signs of the occupiers (“Oh, this one’s a little jejune, you know…”) while the cops were throwing the occupiers themselves to the ground and stepping on their necks. Institutional power, whether cultural or economic (increasingly blurred anyway in this period), wants to shut down any behavior that threatens to transform space into a commons. Let’s publicize this outrageous prosecution of Stephanie Dunn by the Poetry Foundation far and wide.

  4. Micah Robbins

    The collusion between the Poetry Foundation and the Chicago Police Department/Judicial System is indeed an outrage & illustrates the extent to which powerful cultural institutions – though often masquerading as ‘progressive’ forces – are premised on commitments to order, polite decorum, and the advancement of their own cultural capital. Interrupting their cultural capital is, apparently, a criminal offense and deserving of jail time! I’m embarrassed that a building proclaiming itself as the “home for poetry” would invest in $300,000.00 floors rather than, say, using the $300,000.00 to establish literacy programs/poetry study groups in Chicago prisons (or in low- and no-income areas as the Croatoan cell suggested). Or better yet, the money could be used to fund a movement committed to abolishing the US prison system as we know it. It’s a heinous institution the Left should focus on eliminating! As far as I’m concerned, the Poetry Foundation has revealed its advocacy of the US criminal ‘justice’ system as a means of social and political control. They should be ashamed.

  5. John Latta

    The Poetry Foundation is housed in a two-story 22,000-square-foot structure that cost $21.5 million. It contains a 125-chair auditorium (that’s $172,000 per seat), and a 30,000 library of non-circulating poetry books. Foundation President John Barr’s outlook (October 2005): “Even though Poetry magazine has been around for over nine decades, everything else about the Poetry Foundation is brand new. When I arrived in February 2004, we had a large bank account, a new name, and the magazine—but not much else. In my previous career, I was involved in helping to start three different companies from scratch, and I just naturally saw this organization as a start-up operation.” Sense of history: nil. Barr’s stated aim: to “move poetry into a more vigorous mainstream presence in this country.” “When it comes to poetry, the general consensus is that poets are writing more out of the mainstream than they were twenty, thirty, or fifty years ago. If poetry is going to experience another Golden Age, more of it will need to be written for and made accessible to a general audience . . . A Golden Age can’t occur until the art form starts to take its energy from the people, and we have a little to say about that. We can hope to bring the audience to poetry, but how poetry responds is up to poetry.” Note the punitive edge to the lingo: “how poetry responds is up to poetry.” Barr’s Poetry Foundation (and, according to numerous reports, it is Barr himself who brooks no quarrels within—one can be assured that the pressed charge against audience-member Stephanie Dunn of making a “public disturbance” is something Barr had a say in—“we have a little to say about that”) makes it clear how squarely it aligns itself with the 1% (its “audience” is, plainly put, merely some imaginary force to leverage against a preferred kind of “pure” poetry—no licking, no nuzzling, no public loving) . . . Why, one thinks, would one even consider lending credence to such a place? Why even deign set foot against its $300,000 floor (think of Whitman’s loud “sluff of boot-soles” put uncontainably therein)? Snub the Foundation, damn it widely, boycott it, say loudly and publicly to hell with it and its boringly ever-crowded-with-the-new-familiars magazine, Poetry, too.

  6. Joe Amato

    Though I’m loath to abstract the situation from its immediate context, I’d like to suggest that the operating word here and in the OWS protests and in the Arab Spring protests (etc) is justice. And while justice can be something of a moving target, the difficult nature of which is probably best served when groups of people deliberate over its variegated forms (i.e., when we permit dissensus to intervene in our belief systems), here it’s pretty black & white. And it seems from where I’m sitting that the Poetry Foundation is responding much like Wall Street, the Republican Party, and other institutions invested (quite literally) in the status quo, which institutions have a nasty habit, to truck out some sixties rhetoric courtesy of Pope, of breaking butterflies upon a wheel.

    Poetry Foundation, listen up, please! You made a mistake by not dropping all charges against Stephanie Dunn. The barbarians are not at the gate — poetry is. And poetry, as we should all know by now, has teeth. Which is my way of saying that this will bite you in the ass if you don’t act in some way to redress the situation — in the light of public day. And which is my way of saying to Stephanie et al., We’re with you in Rockland.

  7. Clayton Eshleman

    Having not been at the PF when this incident occurred, I can only respond to what I have read about it here. The first thing that comes to my mind, and may be only obliquely relevant, is that Poetry magazine has been a dead duck since Henry Rago, a wonderful eclectic editor who would print Charles Olson on one page facing a James Wright poem on the other, left in the late 1960s. The massive donation by Ms. Lilly has turned Poetry into the Poetry Foundation, now, I believe, a corporation. I agree with what Dale Smith has written. The mind set here evokes the Republican mind and I don’t see why American poets who value true innovation, research and quest in poetry should have anything to do with it.

  8. jared hayes

    the poetry foundation is ridiculous and awful.

  9. Sandra Simonds

    I 100% agree with Dale here. Arresting this poet and then actually pursing the charges is and was outrageous. Poets are not and should not be good citizens or lame rule followers! Ms. Dunn, you are welcome to disrobe at any reading that I give. Anytime.

  10. Sandra Simonds

    that’s “pursuing”…sorry about that.

  11. John Bradley

    The Poetry Foundation’s response to Stephanie Dunn’s “public disturbance” is overkill. They seem to be sending a message to all poets and poetry-lovers to behave properly while in the sacred Temple of Poetry. And only well-behaved poems need be read there. If the Foundation does not immediately drop all charges against Dunn, then a boycott is needed, both of the Foundation and of “Poetry” magazine. Once again the Foundation is wasting its resources, not to mention acting unjustly.

  12. DN

    Fight for your right to be juvenile? Give me a break.

  13. Kent Johnson

    To pick up on Dale’s comment, one of many excellent ones here: Yes, I wonder where someone like Roberto Bolano would stand on this? Or Allen Ginsberg. Or George Oppen. Or Denise Levertov. Or Jack Spicer. Or Amiri Baraka. Or Walt Whitman. Or Jackson Mac Low. Or Cesar Vallejo. Or Aime Cesaire. Or Muriel Rukeyser. Or Kenneth Rexroth. Or Lorine Niedecker. Or Arthur Rimbaud. Or Vladimir Mayakovsky. Or Langston Hughes. I mean, you get the picture; we could go on for hours, until we’ve exhausted 90% of the names in the stacks of the PF’s non-circulating library. The Poetry Foundation has dishonored and sullied the names and principles of hundreds of poets in their collection.

    Let’s keep front and center what has happened: The Poetry Foundation, a multi-million dollar institution with intimate ties to the world of Capital, has called the State on young, idealistic, and *peaceful* poet-protesters (the PF insisting to the Court that one of them be sent to a violence-ridden penitentiary) who are guilty of nothing except practicing a culturally healthy rambunctiousness that has a long and honored tradition in the poetic avant-garde.

    The place should be boycotted by all poets. And the good name of the Croatoan Poetic Cell should right now be on every poet’s lips.

  14. J.H. Prynne

    Well from the far distant outside (over in the UK) this patch of trouble looks rather remote; but it is not. It’s right on the front doorstep of the honourable domain of the poetic imagination, and this ridiculous organisation (Poetry.Inc) has made a deep policy error with is far more significant and serious than a mere foolishness. Doesn’t everyone know by now that artists are the conscience of the race, that even by antics and small-scale protests they keep alive the true spirit and flame of the imagination? If you try to put handcuffs on the freedom of the imagination you demean the idea of right and justice in the social order. Protests against reductive management by institutions professing to represent the imagination as a social presence are of course symbolic, to free up bystanders bound by social conformism, to instigate and provoke and activate. To address such liveliness by legal punishment is in this age fantastically primitive, and demonstrates a backwoods fear of freedom of mind and spirit. The Poetry Foundation should indeed be boycotted and disbanded, because its institutional offensiveness is simply shameful.

  15. Ryan Sanford Smith

    A little poetic ‘rambunctiousness’ to you is rude disruption to another, blah blah. Even the OccupyWallstreet’ers filed their permits.

    Mostly embarrassing to everyone involved, and the more attention it gets the worse we all are, though the self-righteous in whichever rank they find themselves will be immune to this realization.

    If you want to respect / honor Zurita, sit down and listen during his reading. Christ.

    Herpderp, the Poetry Foundation is bad, I shit on their welcome mat and stuck out my tongue. They got mad at me, why’d they get mad at me, I’m a poet!

    All the whining about the treatment here ignores the fact that you probably shouldn’t be willing to protest if you’re not willing to face the consequences, this applies whether I think you’re justified or not. Alcoholic undergraduates will have seen more jail time by their third semester. The ecosystem of melodrama here is astounding.

  16. Nikki Wallschlaeger

    a crypt with three hundred thousand dollar flooring. Poetry is Alive. dirt is dirt. i’d like to take a shit on their floor.

  17. PAUL

    I admit to being a bit disappointed that the written response doesn’t include more details about the comic series of events that prevented Stephanie from making her court time. I’ll bet it is indeed a very funny story, and laughter is always welcome in such moments of intense gravity, even if there is a serious point underlying it all.

    Perhaps it was a fascist conspiracy on the part of Chicago’s uniformed jack-booted CTA engineers? An unholy alliance between them and the ushers who work in Chicago’s movie, concert, and reading venues and who haven’t been in enough graduate seminars to understand why their being struck and sexually groped is necessary for the revolution? Is that why she couldn’t make it to court on time? I’m sure that the fathers of these heroically drunken gropers can marshal the voices of all our most important poetic forbears to bear testament to this further outrage against not only poetry but basic human dignity.

  18. Brooks

    To Ryan Stanford Smith,

    To be clear, we were sitting and listening *very* intently while Zurita was reading his poems. Were you? What did you think about Zurita’s comment at the end of the discussion about art and life becoming intertwined? Did you see them taking down the banner that read ‘viva cada’? Did you read the fine print on the ‘welcome’ mat that reads ‘…so long as you play nice and don’t point out any elephants in the room or skeletons in the closet’? I know, I know, its much easier to dismiss this as juvenile and melodramatic and to say that the poetry foundation was only trying to send someone to jail for a week and that’s not so bad…that’s what should happen to rude disruptive miscreants who don’t file the paper work and get their permits. Would everyone just be good germans for once and quit picking on the poor cops and poetry foundation and clap when the trouble makers are carted off to jail? Look ryan, i’m well aware of the ins and outs of civil disobedience. Getting arrested is often goes with the territory, as was the case with Steph. Though it isn’t always and in this case, while it was a real possibility in the back of our minds,–especially in our second intervention– we were not *trying* to go to jail. But once that happens, the arrest is used to make notorious the fucked up systems at work under which the arrest took place and to reiterate the grievances that motivated the act of civil disobedience in the first place. You don’t usually see protesters reacting to an unjust arrest or prosecution with “oh yeah! that’s what happens! Our comrade’s in jail! just like we planned it. okay show’s over let’s go home and watch tv and forget about everything” It’s okay if you want to hold down the reactionary apologist corner but at least read yr Emerson, dawg.

  19. Ryan Sanford Smith

    No it’s cool, if I shat on your living room rug I’m sure you’d have the same sentiment you do now.

  20. Sarah Fox

    I stand with the majority of you decrying the outrageous yet somehow predictable official response to Brooks (kudos Kent!) & Stephanie, et al’s, protest, and would simply add that Ruth Lilly’s obscene donation to the Poetry Foundation (who should have known better than to accept it because that kind of money, if not all money, you can be sure has blood on its hands) was built in part on sales of the nonsteroidal estrogen Diethylstilbestrol (DES). Eli Lilly’s version of that drug was called “Stilbestrol,” and my mother, along with a few million other mothers (possibly even yours), took that drug, because her doctor told her (after Eli Lilly convinced him) that DES would not only protect her from miscarriage, but would render her normal pregnancy “even more normal.” This despite the fact that definitive research (done at the University of Chicago) in 1953 showed that DES not only was a carcinogenic agent (first transplacental carcinogen known to humans), but it actually caused MORE MISCARRIAGES THAN IT PREVENTED. I was born in the late 60s, but in 1964 the Journal of Wildlife Management reported a successful use of DES in controlling livestock predators (coyote, specifically) who were causing “economic losses” to the agriculture industry. 16 out of the 20 female coyotes isolated for the study experienced “failure of embryo implantation, or reabsorption of embryonic tissues” (i.e. infertility). Meanwhile, Eli Lilly marketed this DES, from every imaginable angle, until 1997! Imagine my surprise when finding a reference to the Poetry Foundation in the last issue of DES Action Voice: “Ruth Lilly, Eli Lilly’s last great-grandchild, died at the age of 94, and bequeathed $200 million of her personal fortune to a poetry foundation. Poetry? DES Daughter Chris C says, ‘I was furious when I read about it. Not that I dislike poetry, but…'” Okay, and now the Poetry Foundation is CALLING THE COPS AND HAVING SOMEONE ARRESTED? This kind of imperialistic, bourgeois cowardice has nothing to do with poetry. As Clayton noted, “I don’t see why American poets who value true innovation, research and quest in poetry should have anything to do with it.” Perhaps the next action imparted upon the Poetry Foundation will involve, in accordance with the times, total occupation. That would be awesome.

    Dale Pendell: “THE HOUSE IS ON FIRE. Poets need to get off their ass and show a little bit more of their Cassandra side.”


  21. Ryan Sanford Smith

    Bonus points for allusions to Nazism while defending yourself against accusations of melodrama.

  22. Jared Schickling

    I think Ryan Sanford Smith has a point, insofar as he says the outcome of the actions of the Croatoan cell were inevitable. Still, Ryan, I think you miss the point of the provocation in the first place by assuming certain rules of decorum are never to be broken. I infer that because nowhere do you consider why the action, insurgency, distraction, ruckus, prank, pie in the face what have you took place. Indeed it seems the conversation as a whole has moved away from that. More than mere rambunctiousness motivates these action(s) at the Poetry Foundation, I assume. I also think you have a point about melodrama; though I would rephrase that and simply ask, why all the outrage? Did anyone ever expect that the Poetry Foundation was anything other than an obnoxiously ugly, boring, apparently vindictive, anaesthetizing, commodifying, poisonous and ruinous cultural monolith with tremendous purchasing power? It is incapable of feeling shame, this corporate person.

    (Please don’t invoke Emerson!)

  23. dhadbawnik

    …and here we find yet more indication of the parallels between the larger protest movement, as the voice of privilege and complacency pooh-poohs the incident and mocks the victim of poetryINC’s overreaction.

  24. Frances Kruk

    John Ronan, architect of the PF building, muses about his design process: “What is a building for poetry? Unlike a school, a church or a house, there is no paradigm for a building of this kind.” It seems that Ronan failed in his poetic ambition to, as he says, “put materials together in meaningful yet unexpected ways”, because the resulting structure is indeed a replica of the worst components of all of the above, not to mention an homage to the glass temples of skyscraping capitalism. All of these spaces are gated and intolerant to the disobedient, the dreamer, the dissenter, the whistle-blower. Imagination and dignity are curbed or even forbidden. Rather than taking what a person might be objecting to into serious consideration (in this case, the PF’s corporatism, its lack of principles, and its contempt for the arts it claims to be home to), external punitive measures are employed to control the “offenders”. To the stocks, then, so to speak.

    I can’t really add more to the excellent comments already posted here, so I will only reiterate the need for public outcry about the PF’s obscene actions against Stephanie Dunn. The entire foundation is built on rotten paradigms, and these latest so-called legal measures illustrate that perfectly.

  25. M

    @Nikki Wallschlaeger: A crypt with three hundred thousand dollar flooring. Poetry is Alive. Dirt is dirt. I’d like to drop a plastic cup on their flo *is tackled by security forces before finishing the sentence*

    @Ryan Sanford Smith: yes, because shitting on $300,000 floors funded by pharmaceutical drug rackets and shitting on someone’s living room rug are, you know, totally comparable…

  26. marcus slease

    Institutionalizing creativity? ACK! Yes the poetry foundation is certainly a corporate entity that simply reinforces the sick system we live in/under. It is sad to see all those revolutionary actions of poets (briefly listed by Kent) co-opted by an organization that seems to promote the exact opposite. Conformity, high society yadda yadda. Yes it is shameful to see money pumped back into these oppressive system under the name of creativity and poetry. Creativity my ass.

  27. Marcus Slease

    This is absolutely unacceptable behaviour by the Poetry Foundation. $300,000 floors??? Tackling someone and using violence is acceptable in the name of decorum? And then the victim of the violence being sent to jail? Let’s keep poetry (life) healthy and divorce ourselves from this sick institution. Boycott the Poetry Foundation. Demand an apology for this unethical behaviour. Does excessive amounts of money excuse people from ethical and humane behaviour in our culture??? Hm . . . well . . . yes this happens all the time. But it is not acceptable! Occupy Wall Street is an example of people who are not accepting this kind of behaviour from powerful institutions. It seems the Poetry Foundation is attempting to fossilize and distort the life work of so many important poets in this repressive cultural institution! Thank you CPC for taking a stand against these repressive/oppressive/violent institutions.

  28. Joshua Kotin

    Just to add another voice condemning the actions of the PF. I can’t imagine that any “different view” of the events would justify Stephanie’s arrest.

  29. Ryan Sanford Smith

    I find any worldview in which I’m a voice of privilege or complacency absolutely adorable.

    Jared, I never said there were rules of decorum never to be broken, only that I didn’t understand all the outrage over how it ended; what was the expected outcome? Do these ‘protestors’ think they or their ideas have been served well? Are their concerns now going to be taken less seriously or more so? Will further discourse with or without their involvement now be more or less likely, more or less open, more or less fruitful? Setting oneself on fire is Plan Z not Plan C; throwing something just short of a self-righteous tantrum shouldn’t be any plan of a serious movement. One might say they’ve stuck out their tongue to spite their face.

    Dear ‘M’: in terms of legality, they’re precisely the same.

    Anyway, I’m just a good German, a privileged apologist boo-booing the brave, victimized poet-activists who totally, like, added rich discourse this conversation with their clearly well-considered actions. It’s lovely to consider that I’m the one here suffused with the privilege of a lazy, simplistic, navel-gazing perspective.

    I actually dislike these ‘rackets’ as their fingers in art as much as anyone, but because they’re big and awful (true/true) that justifies nearly anything? To my mind that only speaks of, again, laziness and a juvenile satisfaction in disruption for its own sake. I’m sure on a level of ideals we’re all on the same page here; but one would think artists / intellectuals / respectable protestors could have made a better go of their protest. Is this our expectation? We couldn’t have held a better account of ourselves here? This was the best we could do? We’re all so mad the reaction was what it was?

    Give them something to think about and you might have a marginal shot at it; leave flaming shit on their doorstep and when they return the favor and move on with their day, don’t cry foul.

  30. Kim Dorman

    I fully agree with Dale, Clayton, Kent, & others that not only is the Poetry Foundation’s shameful behavior reflective of a Republican mindset (plutocracy, not democracy), but disrespectful of its own history & publishing past. This comes however as no surprise, considering the current editor of Poetry magazine has chosen to publish his translations of Osip Mandelstam in The New Criterion, whose editor is noted for his pro-oligarchy/plutocracy, anti-democratic/humanist stance. (Imagine, what would Mandelstam say?)

  31. M

    > Dear ‘M’: in terms of legality, they’re precisely the same.

    Dear RSF: I am not speaking in terms of indifferent bourgeois juridical perspectives. I am speaking in terms of rackets, critique, poetics and solidarity. You know, all those prisms of thought that you haven’t made a single interesting engagement with yet, except perhaps to display, very clearly, your bizarre position as an apologist for a ‘racket’ that you claim to dislike.

    Since you seem to be interested in nit-picking and condescendingly reducing the action to a ‘tantrum’ (god forbid we get angry at these institutions), let me offer this: forget the content of the action, it’s beside the point. (Especially considering its peaceful nature.) Their action is totally irrelevant. It’s main effect was to direct attention toward the politics of the Poetry Foundation, not to serve as an innocuous performance art piece for you to critique as if you were in an art gallery. The sad part is that it *shouldn’t* take an action like this to jump start a bunch of otherwise docile poets into calling out the PF for what it is. It begs interesting critical questions, such as, “why does it take these sorts of actions to reawaken critical perspectives in people?” and “why do people forget to engage critically with these institutions in the absence of harmless performances that remind them to do so?” Regardless of its content, at the very least, it was a gesture against amnesia and for increased criticality.

  32. Gene Tanta

    Ryan, I don’t mean to analyze your essence or intention, but it seems inevitable since your position seems to demand it. Is repression (of the fact that “serious poetry” is already corrupted by being beholden to many kinds of authority) really the best counter-argument for the act of giving the finger to institutionalized art? Maybe we can come up with an apology that fails better?

    I mean really, poetry that gets remembered always says fuck you to established tradition. Granted cultural institutions act as gatekeepers, especially ones that have seen their moment of relevance go and get appropriated by the money-function. The fact that trouble-makers and not tame ducks get remembered by cultural memory is one article of evidence that poetry is political. To insist on the division of labor between proper poetry versus effective protest is to miss the point of that non-neutered twentieth-century movement, the Avant-garde.

  33. Ryan Sanford Smith


    My counterargument almost entirely consisted of actually saying we can do better than merely raising a middle finger, not that being angry was wrong or acting on that anger was wrong.


    It’s not a gesture against amnesia if it’s viciously forgettable.

  34. Kent Johnson

    So many excellent comments here. I think it is very noteworthy that J.H. Prynne, thought by many to be England’s most important living poet, has forcefully weighed in and with great eloquence (it is not exactly everyday that Prynne makes public statements!). And Clayton Eshleman, too, one of the most important figures in American poetry and translation of the past decades.

    I also think that Montevidayo blog deserves great credit for airing this issue and providing a forum of discussion around it.

    Where is the Poetry Foundation? Why the utter silence when it is clear there is great and growing concern in the poetry community about their actions?

  35. John Latta

    I just sent the Poetry Foundation the following under the necessarily pre-selected subject line of “I have a Harriet news tip!”:

    Ironic to see, just now, an interview posted with Maggie Nelson called “Freedom and Discipline in the Shed.” Its title summons up rather poignantly the recent arrest of Stephanie Dunn at the $21.5 million dollar Poetry Foundation “shed” on trumped up charges of making a “public disturbance.” Why no coverage of that incident? Why no aggregator’s arrow pointed at the lengthy discussion of the events (and the Poetry Foundation’s own exceedingly corporate response) to be found at Montevidayo? Numerous poets, including J. H. Prynne, Clayton Eshleman, and Kent Johnson, among others, weigh in there: you can too!

    Here’s the tip!

  36. TL

    Love the irony here:

    Posted under Poetry News on 2011-10-11

    “Peter Lamborn Wilson on the Dragonish Malignancy of Money”

    By Harriet Staff

  37. Nikki Wallschlaeger

    @ M: maybe i could put a little velvet rope around it, then. think i would still get tackled?

  38. Kent Johnson

    And here’s something fascinating [CPC goes international!]: a substantial article (October 4th) on the Croatoan Poetic Cell action in La Tercera, one of Chile’s leading newspapers. The article is excellent, in fact, as summary of the event.

    A passage quoting Zurita, quickly translated, says the following (original Spanish passage below)

    “On being asked about the action honoring CADA, Zurita confirmed, from the United States: ‘I felt a profound tenderness on witnessing these young people, because I knew it was sign of a much deeper struggle, that of poetry against the powers of a shameful order.'”

    >Al ser consultado por la acción a favor del CADA, Zurita aseguró desde Estados Unidos: “Sentí una profunda ternura al ver a estos chicos, porque supe que era el signo de una lucha mucho más profunda, de la poesía contra los poderes de un orden avergonzante”.

  39. Dale Smith

    TL: I think the magical relationship between money and culture is quite apt vis. OWS protests etc. But what’s the point of the link you posted other than an asinine attempt to deflect the issue (Stephanie Dunn has been prosecuted for nothing)? Magic only happens within specific contexts, ie, if I were to place a hex on some powerful entity that possessed no good will toward me, it would take place within a meaningful range of possibilities. Throwing some anarchy quotes around within a gnomic and withdrawn-from-the-issue sense of rhetoric advances very little in terms of the conversation established here, no?

  40. TL

    From the last line of the article: “Given the proliferation and gigantism of Baba Yaga in our times, perhaps what we need is an Army of Jacks.”

    I was thinking when it comes to the Poetry Foundation perhaps what we need is an Army of Stephanies/Brookses.

  41. M

    @RSF: well, apparently Zurita doesn’t think it’s forgettable.

  42. Dale Smith

    Oh, I see–yes–I agree: what Stephanie and Brooks have done is quite refreshing, and it speaks to a larger cultural moment. It seems that if people are questioning the rights of institutions and corporations to invade the commons (whether it be the environment or intellectual property, etc), we have to also consider the common property of poetry as it rubs up against institutional orders. As poetry becomes increasingly institutionalized by organizations like PF, others by necessity must imagine alternative powers for poetry–and act on the behalf of the word.

  43. Johannes

    Lets not forget the last paragraph of the Chilean article:

    After the disturbance, Zurita went to the Foundation’s library with a group of people and glanced at a new banner hanging from the patio of the building: “What would have happened if Emily Dickinson hadn’t been prescribed Prozac” Zurita improvised his own poem: “What would have happened if Pablo de Rokha had been prescribed Prozac.”

    [Pablo de Rokha killed himself.]


  44. TL

    Not everyone is convinced Prozac and other SRRIs prevent suicide. A quick google search reveals some believe the drugs can actually lead to suicide. The first link I clicked on implicates Eli Lily in the firing of Dr. David Healy, who linked “Prozac, Paxil and the other SSRI’s to suicide.”

    Have such claims been debunked? Not in children, teenagers and young adults anyway as those warnings in anti-depressant ads on TV indicate.

  45. M

    Doesn’t Prozac have a rep for *increasing* suicide rates?

  46. Rodrigo Toscano

    One idol that remains to be shattered is the illusion of private property (and I’m not talking about peoples’ personal toothbrushes or lived in houses or brightly-painted aluminum horses on wheels), especially when it comes to vast sums of accumulated money – of corporations, of 501 C3’s funded by corporations, no matter how many offices they have, how much staff, how many bank account numbers, tax code registrations numbers, title deeds, etc – in the last instance, IT’S NOT ANY ONE ENTITIES MONEY. That is, the PF is the PF as the PF says its the PF. Not a carp! Just a momentary flash of the idol in pieces.

    And yet, the PF (as well as any other enterprise that operates on accumulated moneys from sources not immediately present and with deliberative power) can define itself to some extent by the way that it intersects with the powers of the state (the state being the ultimate “force as the force that says it’s the force)” PF, you insisted that somebody be jailed on the account of an escalation of actions and responses?

    Why the rush to self define so tightly? Manifestations in the midst of “perfectly planned events” is something that – from now on – should be accepted as a possibility. “We don’t want that as a possibility.” Then just say so.

    Me, personally, I haven’t “had it out” for PF, but I can most definitely say that I am dismayed – actually, very disturbed that you would lean on the powers of the state to help stabilize your self-definition – as through an event.

    The poet, Zurita (the guest of the evening) has said he felt that the young people manifesting their views was indicative of a general sense of something deeply amiss in the air, perhaps stemming from the same rottenness that people en masse (the 99 percenters). are now protesting on Wall Street,

    I was not present at the Zurita event, I did not witness the play by play of the manifestation and reaction to it, but to insist that Stephanie Dunn be thrown into a jail for 8 days – that – I am protesting. If there is internal debate in your organization as to choosing that form of response, why aren’t we hearing it?

    I hope the silence isn’t coming from “we’re waiting to hear from our lawyers.” If so, bypass them, come out and say something – poets to poets. YES, there will be continued critique and debate as to the nature and direction of the PF, YES, you can *disagree* – but my goodness, to lean on the state. How many of you have been to a county jail lately? I’ve heard that the quality of the reading lamps is quite low.

    And this too, again, gleaned from accounts I’ve read on-line, that at the second event, when the young poets of CPC showed up a second time to pass pamphlets, that after they tried to leave the building, that your staff was blocking their passage? Why?

    And why the stony silence on your site?

    As a poet who’s done work with you in the past (and would consider doing so in the future, depending on the project) I would like to know *right now* what is the next step? Please speak to us as Poets to Poets (politely show your lawyers the door).

    Will there be black lists now for who can enter the building? For certain people who can attend events? For who can post on your site?

    I know too that it’s workers who make the PF run on a daily basis (who work as 99 percent of us do), can any of you you speak to us as such? Can one of you speak to me as such?

    Here’s a gesture / action / manifestation that would bring everyone involved some much needed cheer:

    Cut a square piece of the $300, 000 carpet, 12″ by 12″, and hang it in the new PF building by two pieces of string, like a mobile, to commemorate this whole event / “fiasco” / narrative.

    This square would speak to Stephanie’s torment at going to jail, to the event that celebrated Zurita’s heroic poetry – and what that means for us here today, and finally, to your being irked at what the CPC did – from your point of you, and finally, to your acknowledgment that property (decoration, comfort) is absolutely secondary to the spirit of young people deeply concerned about the direction of world as manifested through poetic activity.

    I will be visiting Chicago in early March for the AWP, and I’m planning on paying a visit to the new Poetry Foundation Building. I will be very disappointed not to see “the slice” of carpet up hanging up by then. All it requires is a sharp X-acto knife, good aim, a sense of proportion, and a spark of artistic flare.

    I hereby commission Poetry Foundation President, John Barr, and CPC poets Stephanie Dunn and Brooks Johnson to do the measuring, slicing, and hanging up of “a slice of american poetry.”


    Rodrigo Toscano

  47. Kim Dorman

    “These people! Goddamn, I can’t believe it! Poe, Baudelaire, Henry Miller, Tom Wolfe, Whitman, Celine, Arthur Rimbaud! A drunk, a psychopath, a pornographer, a baby, a homosexual, a criminal, a satanic madman! Lock them all up, they’re raving nuts. If we don’t put them behind some kind of bars they might murder us all, rape the Belssed Virgin, blow up the White House, embarrass everyone, make a disturbance, or write “Annabel Lee” and Flowers of Evil and Tropic of Capricorn and Look Homeward, Angel and Leaves of Grass and Journey to the End of Night and Illuminations! Illuminations, hah, that’s a good one! Better lock up Socrates, he’s inciting all the kids to quit work, mock great men, be beatniks; and Jesus, the sonofabitch keeps telling everybody to quit work, too, and give away all their possessions, and don’t worry about it! And Buddha, that bastard wants everyone to beg! That’s o.k., but who does he expect to feed all those people? I mean, some of us have to put our shoulder to the wheel, and be responsible, and why should we feed people who don’t work? Why don’t Buddha and Jesus and Socrates get a job? What is he, a beatnik? Beatniks! Goddamn, they’re everywhere! Never work! Take pills! Make fun of America! Ginsberg! Miller! Whitman! Poe! They should all be put in the Jackson Memorial Hospital so that the world can be safe.

    . . . But violence is always the savior of the majority when they are faced with a danger that they may be wrong about how to live. They crucify Jesus, condemn Socrates to death, take Shelly’s children away, ban Miller’s books, lable Ginsberg and Kerouac and thereby dismiss them.”

    Ted to Sandy Berrigan, March 26, 1962

    For Stephanie

    Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose

  48. Ted Pelton

    Beautiful Ted Berrigan quotation, Kim!

    I remember talking a couple years ago to Eric Lorberer about the 100 million dollar Lily behest to the Poetry Foundation. He said (you can ask him yourself): “Or, $1 million each could have been given to 100 different organizations — and it would have changed American culture.” Can you imagine Rain Taxi with a million dollars? Action Books? FC2? Counterpath? Futurepoem? Ellipsis? Chiasmus? Mudluscious? Les Figues? Belladonna? Did I not mention your favorite mag or press? That’s OK, we’ve got 90 million dollars more!

    Sadly, people with that kind of money to give don’t want to change American culture. Or, they want to change it in the wrong direction.

    That’s why we’ve got the new epidemic of urban campers.

  49. Kent Johnson

    I’d like to propose, in light of the terrific comments of indignation and concern posted here of late, that if the Poetry Foundation has any true commitment to open discussion and debate within the poetry field, it will (at its main page or at Harriet) link without dealy to this post and the comments beneath it. A note: The Chicago Reader, with circulation in the hundreds of thousands is apparently coming out with a big article on this very soon. How much longer will the PF remain silent? Does it really think this issue will go away?

  50. Kevin Kilroy

    what would have happened if Gide was prescribed dog food?!
    what would have happened if Jim Henson was prescribed cut-off jeans?!
    what would have happened if Timothy Mcveigh was prescribed alluvial deposits of inflating gold?!
    what would have happened if Gershwin was prescribed nail clippings in the rear bending hawk honey out of aluminum shrills?!
    what would have happened if Tony Montoya was prescribed ginger beer and yogurt covered raisins?!
    what would have happened if Beatrix Potter was prescribed felafel caked at rush hour against the Roanoke Street to Dorothy’s Night Owl parking lot of wasabi opulent minutemen?!
    What would have happened if Nelson Algren was prescribed soy cheese jinx powder all over the poker stump of rolling toad gutter grime cleaning pesticide kelp?!
    What would have happened had Marianne Moore been prescribed fetid noise rushings against her tongue bear while the food critics backed down all-nighters of junky junk junk?!
    What would have happened for real this time really real this time with reality on our side of realness and the real time that real time that those people showed up and the other people watched them and the poets said this is poetry and the other poets said this is not poetry and the internet said we hate poetry and the outernet said poetry does not exist and the sponsored poets said read our poems and the patron poets said we’ll buy those poems and the poets poets poeticlaay aginst her moon?!
    What would have happened if Death Naps were given out like snoring spouses as the lawns shaved themselves into hallways for the return of the 99 cent slogan?!
    What would have happened if Goya had kneeled prescribing yacht rides down Colonel Kurtz’ belly lining?!
    What would have happened had Montmarte swallowed Virginia after halibut buttered by Dixie curds of Wisconsin floors rusting in browser libraries of administrative outrage?!
    What would have happened had administrative rampage been denied its rubbing of the beast of the goats neck so soft and spermy and denied the ability to make rugs from animals slain and denied the power to lie naked upon it, denied fornication which did not necessitate administrative orgasm guardians of our poems which our not ours are not they?!
    The nothing owed have nothingness out of the somethinged ruins choking a nut squirrel leaping upon nothing landing green and glasses and intrigued for that night the night of the poet night was not a night but agenda and again the administrators tore the balls off and the poets coddled the balls and the other poets made ballcreme and the other other poets protested the use of the word balls which was noted in the minutes of the lineage of the moon vision of the end rhyme time lime slime my nose with gastroawareness as the emails email everyone?!
    WHo did not bury their teeth minus the indenting sacredness of our faces in mass?!
    Who did not exit the fingering of boylove grabbing bats and unctuous regretables being body at the baseline of white mouse vinegar?!
    Who did not dust themselves when they got up?!
    WHo did not cough inhaling smoke of deceased dreaming entities tributating beneath this rock?!
    Who did not gulp bouncing sword vases while panting juggle buttons in line at the victory lap gallon snow beans drunk with Quixote and Kaufman of not your teevee but your inner tuff robe?!
    Who did not?! Who did not?! Who did Not?!

  51. Sean Bonney

    I would like to express my admiration for and solidarity with the actions of Stephanie Dunn and the Croatoans. Alongside the occupation movements, their’s is the most important poetic work being done in the US right now.

    The Poetry Foundation’s response is unforgivable. Occupy their building. As Allen Ginsberg said more than half a century ago, “the trouble with these creeps is they wouldn’t know Poetry if it came up and buggered them in broad daylight”.

    Sean Bonney

  52. Lucas

    Between expensive highschool and expensive college, I had a summer internship at Poetry. Its offices in those days—before the Lily donation—were in the Newberry Library building on Washington Sq. Park, which had once been called Bughouse Square (, where anarchists and radicals like Kenneth Rexroth met to hold raucous debates.

    Poetry’s founder, Harriet Monroe, hobnobbed with the hoity-toity, in part I’m sure to secure funding for her startup (not her upstart). Nevertheless, her 1912 mission statement represents something of the Bughouse spirit. That mission is still on the magazine’s masthead (, unchanged from 99 years ago:
    “The Open Door will be the policy of this magazine—may the great poet we are looking for never find it shut, or half-shut, against his ample genius! To this end the editors hope to keep free from entangling alliances with any single class or school. They desire to print the best English verse which is being written today, regardless of where, by whom, or under what theory of art it is written. Nor will the magazine promise to limit its editorial comments to one set of opinions.”
    —Harriet Monroe, 1912

    And yet, given the Foundation’s response to a demonstration IN SUPPORT OF poetry in general and a poet they were hosting in particular, I can’t think of the Poetry Foundation and “open doors” without a whole lot of dissonance. Clayton is right that this has defined the magazine’s publications since Daryl Hine took over from Henry Rago as editor in 1969 (a portentous year?), but if its aesthetics have opened up since the Lily donation (I just noticed a Rae Armantrout feature), its politics have not (talk about a Money Shot).

    It didn’t have to go this way, of course, Eric at Rain Taxi proposed a million dollars for a hundred literary institutions; I know someone else who suggested a common fund from which every independent lit. journal could draw, with a stipulation against ever dipping into principal. That would be a real open door policy, I think.

    Unless the Poetry Foundation wants to legitimize its critics? In that case, go draconian on them. Demonstrate how the institutionalization of literature and the institutionalization of wealth and power really do go together. how far will that get everyone?

    irregular Lucas

  53. Philip Metres

    I enter this angered hornet’s nest late, but I concur that the actions of the PF seem quite out of proportion to the disturbance created, and given the ethos of poetry in general, one would wish for a gentler engagement with its detractors–not the full force of the law.

    We have two logics at work–one, bourgeois, the other, anti-bourgeois, and so the outcome feels almost required. Of course if you spend a bazillion dollars on something, you don’t want someone to break it. That’s bourgeois logic par excellence.

    And while there are very legitimate reasons for critique of and action against the spending of this money in the ways it’s being spent, and while I decry the treatment of the protestors, I hope that protest does not remain focused on the institutions of poetry alone; I worry that we continue to fulfill Cary Nelson’s quip–“once we marched on Washington, now we march on English departments.” That’s why I’ve been heartened by poets’ engagement with the OWS movement, in sundry ways.

  54. Kent Johnson

    Phil, just a few quick thoughts on your good comment above. I happen to know that the members of the Croatoan Poetic Cell are very involved in various political issues and movements. They’ve been in the middle of the OWES stuff in Chicago, they organized the 40th anniversary commemoration of the ’68 Democratic Convention uprisings two and a half years ago (Chicago police out in full force waiting), they organized a very successful May Day march and culture-celebration downtown last year, and they are the founders and organizers of one of the most interesting community-education projects in Chicago in past years, the Mid-Coast Free School, to mention just a few things. In short, these are young poet-artist-musician activists who are there doing courageous work and also theorizing about what they do, or might do, in serious ways. Most of them are of anarchist persuasion, it seems, and I understand that they see the confrontation with dominant and moneyed cultural institutions as part and parcel of the broader struggle against the power structures of Capital in the main. And it seems to me that this is the right outlook. That was the outlook of Raul Zurita’s CADA, in fact, the poet they were honoring with their peaceful action at the PF. In some ways, it is MORE difficult, requires more chutzpah, to confront the structures of power in the poetic/cultural field than it does, say, to demonstrate against Wall Street in a park, good and important as that is. But the latter is relatively popular and peer-group acceptable; the former is met with large-scale discomfort and silence. It’s in this sense that the Croatoan Poetic Cell, in my view, represents the best example of classic avant spirit in American poetry right now (something the leading UK poet Sean Bonney points out in recent comment above).

  55. Johannes

    Just a quick note Kent: Although I agree with some of your positions, I don’t know why you have to be so hierarchical in your language. It’s always about how someone is the “most important” or “leading UK poet” (why can’t he just be Sean Bonney? Why do you have to frame him as “leading”?) or are the correct “avant spirit.” Why do you insist on using this kind of language? This kind of rhetoric immediately turns me off. And the idea that this protest is the “most important” thing going on in a US poetry that is proliferating all kinds of amazing projects strikes me as not only wrong but an utterly conservative/centralizing gesture. / Johannes

  56. Kent Johnson

    Johannes, I said Bonney was one of the leading younger UK poets because he is. Maybe I should have said “one of the leading younger figures in UK radical poetry,” or something like that. Frances Kruk is another. Keston Sutherland another. Others. Unfortunately, there is too little knowledge here in U.S. of some of this important work over there, which has a good deal to say to us. Hardly anyone is talking about it. So don’t get too annoyed over my little adjective. And I didn’t say the CPC protest was “the most important thing going on in U.S. poetry” (I think that was Bonney’s formulation). I said the action, symbolically speaking, “the best example of classic avant spirit in U.S. poetry right now” (art beyond the page, art into life, that sort of thing). It’s certainly much more in that classic spirit than Conceptual poetry, for instance, all the rage right now. Maybe I should have qualified that a bit, too (I suspect the CPC group is probably annoyed with me, as well), and said “ONE of the best”… etc.). Anyway, I’ve always had a problem with modifiers. Still working on it. Bear with me.

  57. ammiel alcalay

    apologies for not weighing in on this sooner, though i’ve been reading with great attention. first & foremost, congratulations to stephanie dunn & the other croatoans for raising a little hell within the confines of such deadly boredom, the kind of “administrative detention” that most of so-called “public” & “cultural” life seems to consist of these days. this, in itself, is a great thing…i was very happy to see john latta’s post with all the particular figures & dimensions involved – this says it all, & once such figures & dimensions are involved, it’s actually quite unreasonable to expect anything, anything other than some form of the response that took place. excuse the brevity & keep up the good work!

  58. oog

    For Christ’s sake, it was a tantrum. What are they protesting? Haughtiness? You can retroactively justify it any way you like; when they made a mess and a scene, they did it for the sake of the mess and for the sake of the scene. Meanwhile, there are people protesting a very real plutocracy down the street, peaceful protests against real oppression. Actual oppression. That is, oppression that existed before it responded to the protest. There is no suppression of poetry Dunn was protesting; she acted impetuously and is now crusading so she doesn’t have to feel guilty about behaving like an idiot in someone else’s “home” which she was, in fact, allowed to enter. Again, there’s an actual protest down the street; no need to romanticize this purely counter-derivative, purely figurative one.

  59. oog

    Everyone was clearly waiting for a symbolic act against this monstrous corporate Poetry Foundation; couldn’t you have concocted one rather than glomming onto a spontaneous act declared a protest only afterward?

  60. oog

    One final thing: Poetry may have an ugly, ostentatious wealthy looking new building, but you can hardly claim that any other establishment, including private owners, would react any differently. Perhaps Ms. Dunn can just go into my house next week, throw wine on the floor, make a scene, and then after I kick them out claim that it was all in protest of how haughty I am.

  61. Kim Dorman

    oog, Ms. Dunn wasn’t just “kicked out”, a warrant was issued for her arrest.

    Yes, OWS is a very real & hugely important protest. Does that mean poets should simply ignore the absurd legal action taken against Ms. Dunn, much less actually sympathize, as you seem to do, with the Poetry Foudnation’s treatment of an “idiot” to the kind of punishment you seem to feel she deserves?

  62. the view from the other side | CJ Evans

    […] All of these were randomly generated by one annoyed reading of the comments on this post. I apologize for not linking directly to everyone’s posts and citing everything, but a […]

  63. Kent Johnson

    In other news (the laugh and weep variety), I just had to make sure everyone saw the title of this post from yesterday at the Poetry Foundation’s Harriet blog.

    “Oakland writers denounce actions toward recent protestors”

    The Chicago Reader, the city’s mass, venerable weekly, carried a big feature article last week on the Croatoan Poetic Cell protests and the bizarre reactions of the PF (you can see this online). The online version has a different title than the print one. The print headline reads (and you have to understand that about two million people in Chicago read this):

    “Don’t Fuck with the Poetry Foundation.”

  64. CJ Laity

    Just found this page and missed this discussion over the past few weeks. It’s unfortunate to learn how vigorously the PF was in prosecuting Stephanie. It’s my opinion that both sides of this issue have acted immaturely, Stephanie and the others for expecting the Foundation to react any differntly than it did, and the Foundation for taking it all THAT seriously. My own experience of trying to cooperate with the PF came when they “allowed” me to host an open mic at one of their Printers Balls, for which I was actually contacted prior to the event by telephone with a warning that if I caused any trouble it would be dealt with (apparently they thought since I was arguing with someone via our blogs, that I was going to do someething violent at the Ball), and also I was advised to take a certain post off my blog (I guess since I was doing an unpaid open mic for them, they felt I represented them and that I should behave myself in my private life). I’ve done poetry events for just about every org during the past twenty years, including the Chicago Tribune and the Public Library, and NEVER ever had anyone butt into my personal life like that. The bottom line is that the PF takes itself way too seriously as Poetry Magazine has done for the last century. Seriously. What other poetry venue believes it needs guards with microhpones in their ears protecting the reading in the first place? That said, knowing how whacked out the PF is, I don’t have any desire to go in there and cause trouble, because if I did I’d expect them to, well, act whacky about it. My point is, I guess, if you don’t like something, don’t support it. Believe me, the PF needs us waaaay more than we need them. When they find their readings taking place in an empty room and when the small press scene stops participating in their Ball, maybe they will be forced to hire management that isn’t so damned paranoid and actually understands where poets are coming from, other than wanting to get paid for a gig on their expensive floor.

  65. Weinberger & Subin in Hongkong | Notes on the Mosquito

    […] from Cantonese cuisine to museums under colonialism to out-of-print sinology to the Poetry Foundation to American politics. And of course to Xi Chuan, whose photo-portrait by Nina from a few years ago […]

  66. debbie hu

    hi! i’m having a helluva time finding contact information for CPC over the internet. my question is, how can i get involved in occupy poetry? i can queer texts, i can make zines, i can cook meals for up to 25 people, i can play instruments, i can flaunt norms of sexual decency, hit me back, my email is dbbie.h at gmail.