|North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory (R)|
Apologies for the rehash.
In " Numbers" we saw Mark Halliday drastically misguess the number of poets in America at 10,000 to 30,000. I'd wager that Manhattan alone has more than that. For a certainty, one of the most obscure critical venues on the Internet, Zoetrope, currently has 113,689 members, most of them in its poetry forum. This is only one example of an almost universal trend among academics: they grossly underestimate the number of Americans who write poetry (~3,000,000), even as they overestimate the number of others who read it (~0). In addition to the onliners, Print Worlders seem honestly unaware of millions--yes, millions--of open mikers, slammers, vanity types and lovers who dabble in the art form (and haven't been offered any book deals). Barely a handful know who Margaret Ann Griffiths or Marc Smith are.
Speaking of the populace, we must always bear in mind how indifferent the public is to this position in the absence of such unprofessional behavior by Arts Council partisans. Did I mention that Nobody Reads Poetry?
The official job description for the position of North Carolina Poet Laureate is to "act as an ambassador of N.C. literature, using the office as a platform from which to promote N.C. writers and the potentially transformative quality of poetry and the written word."
Did you catch where it said "ambassador...to promote..."? Compare this to the Arts Council's criteria:
- A North Carolinian with deep connections to the cultural life of this state
- Literary excellence of the writer's work
- Influence on other writers
- An appreciation of literature in its diversity throughout the state.
- Statewide, national or international reputation
- Ability and willingness to conduct the public engagement duties of the office
Unlike Arts Council members, the governor is elected by the people of North Carolina. Love him or hate him, it is his job and no one else's to pick the next Poet Laureate on behalf of the citizenry he represents. Imagine the uproar if, having done his job by selecting Valerie Macon, Governor McCrory had wasted the Arts Council's time on a redundant search process.
"Choosing to ignore this process means choosing to ignore the people of the state."
"...the people of the state", no less!
Damn you, Ed!
1. Poet Laureate
2. Poet Laureate - Part II
3. Hurdles Rule - Part I
4. Hurdles Rule - Part II
5. "Vegetarian Meat Lover" from "Shelf Life" (2011) by Valerie Macon, with a 2011 Pushcart nomination
6. "Detour" from "Sleeping Rough" (2014) by Valerie Macon, with a 2013 Pushcart nomination
7. North Carolina Poet Laureate (2005-2009) Kathryn Stripling Byer Reads from "Descent"
8. North Carolina Poet Laureate (2010-2012) Cathy Smith Bowers reads "Snow"
9. North Carolina Poet Laureate (2012-2014) Joseph Bathanti Reads "Knocked"
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Earl Gray, Esquirrel