Travelers Welcome

Travelers Welcome

Friday, May 14, 2010

This Poem Is Taboo, and If You Don’t Know Why (You Forgot about the Dog House Out Back)

By G. Tod Slone

One day on the Internet, I read a brief interview featuring Sam Hamill,
poet and founder of Copper Canyon Press.
(Now, if I were Charles Bukowski, I would have written Jack Camel
and Nickel Creek Press, but evidently I’m not him.)
Wisdom, unsurprisingly, was not to be found in Hamill’s discourse,
only phrases typical of those bathing in the limelight:
“Poetry is a very large house with many rooms, closets, attics,
basements, bedrooms and kitchens.”

The interview had resulted from an invitation by Allison Hedge Coke,
Endowed Chair of Poetry & Writing at the University of Nebraska.
Thus, I contacted her—that’s what I do—and suggested she invite me
to read or speak or whatever because, well, I likely stood
at direct antipodes to Hamill, an established-order fellow,
pumped up with hefty sums of public monies thanks to the NEA.

To my long email, Coke replied briefly without addressing my query:
“How could you possibly be against Sam Hamill, a dear friend?”
The same, of course, could have been argued for any “prominent” one,
witty wordsmithy thriving in comfy buffered cocoon.

So, I was critical of the fellow because he accorded himself the title
of Director of Poets against War, though evidently not against
PC and its smiley-faced literary established order.
For democracy, I argued that he and all luminaries should not
be shielded from valid critique,
teeming about in their hermetic backslapping circles.
Coke, an Iroquois, though of the Women’s Studies variety, replied briefly:
“Maybe white/Western democracy, certainly not indigenous American
democracy, where true democracy was lifted from.”
Could the good woman simply not “hear” what I had to say, that it was
so easy for Hamill and friends to criticize distant wars, while ignoring,
much closer to home, the corrupt academic hands feeding them so royally?
They’d hammered away at Bush’s war, but now it was Obama’s, yet
nary a word about that.

Coke again replied and again oh so briefly: “Some of us have to work
to feed our families versus attacking people who are working…”
Always the excuses abounded for turning a blind eye, I reminded her
and of my invitation query,
but she simply refused to address the latter and wouldn’t acknowledge
that students in higher education ought to be exposed to all points of view,
not just to hers and those of her “prominent” buddies.
Always inspired by the sealed doors of academe, I sketched a cartoon
featuring Hamill, Coke, and Others, and sent it to all those concerned.

There, of course, was no further response… from her or any of them.

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