It’s time to Occupy Poetry

This, on SUNDAY, NOV 13, 2011 12:00 PM EST, in Salon Magazine. You can read the full article here. Opening paras, below:

Merry pranksters call the Poetry Foundation elitist and beholden to Prozac cash. Are they right, or just annoying?

occupy chicago bookstore

 (Credit: YouTube)

One evening this fall, two young activists walked through the bright, modern library of the new Poetry Foundation headquarters and marched up to the glass balcony. Some 30 attendees had gathered that evening in Chicago to hear a free poetry reading, and now many turned to view long, hand-painted banners unfurling from the second floor. With solemn fanfare, the two men, members of a small rebel alliance called the Croatoan Poetic Cell, had launched their latest defense of poetry — shortly before someone at the foundation called the police.

“What would have happened,” asked one banner, “if Emily Dickinson had been prescribed Prozac?” Idle speculation aside — one pictures long, glazed-over afternoons spent knitting frocks in New England — the protesters were implying that Prozac stymies creativity, and that the Poetry Foundation, lavishly funded by a pharmaceutical fortune, does business with the kind of people who might, given the chance, have put Dickinson on antidepressants.

The story of how a nonprofit literary foundation became a stage for anti-Prozac agitation begins in 2003. That year, Ruth Lilly, the heiress of the pharmaceutical family, gave a fairy-godmotherish gift of $200 million to the Poetry Foundation. In the cash-poor world of poetry, it was like dropping a quivering church mouse into a gourmet cheese emporium. Since then, the foundation has built a sleek new headquarters in Chicago’s West Loop, which boasts a gorgeous library, a public garden, an auditorium and the offices of Poetry, the foundation’s storied magazine.

To the CPC, the foundation has also settled comfortably into its new role as an oppressor of the masses: a monied bastion of “state-corporate control,” according to their leaflets. They believe the foundation now wields the anti-creative influence of its financial overlords.

As the Occupy movement nears its third month, the CPC — though not strictly an Occupy offshoot — is among the many groups decrying arts institutions as clubhouses of the 1 percent. In October, New York protesters occupied Sotheby’s, MoMA and the Artists Space gallery in SoHo. “We, the artists of the 99% have emerged!” one protester wrote. “Not as pawns in your fraudulent art market where the royalty of Wall Street rule.”

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3 Responses

  1. Poo says:

    Good Grief, the Poets are the 1%! What’s next, and Occupation of their library by the Auto and Public Sector Unions? Will there be tents, port-a-potties and mobile kitchens?

  2. David says:

    Porque no?

  3. The Silence Within says:

    Obama is the 1%…

    Homeland Security Coordinated 18-City Police Crackdown on Occupy Protest
    Posted on November 16, 2011 by WashingtonsBlog
    National Coordination Goes Against Protection of Local Accountability
    According to Oakland Mayor Jean said that 18 cities coordinated police crack downs on Occupy protests.
    Wonkette reports that Homeland Security likely organized the crack downs:
    Remember when people were freaking out over the Patriot Act and Homeland Security and all this other conveniently ready-to-go post-9/11 police state stuff, because it would obviously be just a matter of time before the whole apparatus was turned against non-Muslim Americans when they started getting complain-y about the social injustice and economic injustice and income inequality and endless recession and permanent unemployment? That day is now, and has been for some time. But it’s also now confirmed that it’s now, as some Justice Department official screwed up and admitted that the Department of Homeland Security coordinated the riot-cop raids on a dozen major #Occupy Wall Street demonstration camps nationwide yesterday and today. (Oh, and tonight, too: Seattle is being busted up by the riot cops right now, so be careful out there.)
    Rick Ellis of the Minneapolis edition of has this, based on a “background conversation” he had with a Justice Department official on Monday night:
    Over the past ten days, more than a dozen cities have moved to evict “Occupy” protesters from city parks and other public spaces. As was the case in last night’s move in New York City, each of the police actions shares a number of characteristics. And according to one Justice official, each of those actions was coordinated with help from Homeland Security, the FBI and other federal police agencies.
    According to this official, in several recent conference calls and briefings, local police agencies were advised to seek a legal reason to evict residents of tent cities, focusing on zoning laws and existing curfew rules. Agencies were also advised to demonstrate a massive show of police force, including large numbers in riot gear. In particular, the FBI reportedly advised on press relations, with one presentation suggesting that any moves to evict protesters be coordinated for a time when the press was the least likely to be present.
    (And for those who are understandably doubtful about as a news source, here’s an AP story from a couple hours ago that verifies everything except the specific mention of DHS coordination.)
    Yves Smith notes:
    The 18 police action was a national, coordinated effort. This is a more serious development that one might imagine. Reader Richard Kline has pointed out that one of the de facto protections of American freedoms is that policing is local, accountable to elected officials at a level of government where voters matter. National coordination vitiates the notion that policing is responsive to and accountable to the governed.

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