NC Poet Laureate Controversy: Art Pope, Pat McCrory And #Merica
Credit: WRAL
July 19, 2014

I am a native North Carolinian...who left and has no intention of going back as long as Art Pope and Pat McCrory are alive. I spent 35 years being a largely ignored poet...and finally gave it up to be a photographer. And I'm a progressive....which means I pretty much stay mad at the state of the Old North State.

So this latest dustup back home is kind of a perfect storm. First, read Jim Booth's insightful analysis about what's really going on here. In brief:

By choosing Macon, what McCrory and his puppet master Pope hope to do is undermine, then abolish the office (and divert its pittance of a stipend which ranges from $5000-15000 into the pockets of those who already have far too much).

A few thoughts in no particular order.

1: Art Pope: Born on third, thinks he hit a triple. If you don't know about Art, he's basically the Southern hillbilly version of the Cock Koch brothers.

2: This is all very sad for the arts – the last thing poetry needs is this kind of cynical politicization. Or heck, maybe this is exactly what it needs. We progressives pay lip service to the arts, but in truth we rarely get passionate about them. Anything that gets people to thinking about art a little is better than the normal course of events. If Valerie Macon is like most poets, this controversy is going to get her work more eyeballs than everything else she’s ever done put together. That's sad, but #Merica.

3: Wait – all I had to do to be a famous NC poet was suck up to Art Pope? Can I use my mulligan here?

4: I hadn’t read any of Macon's work before this story broke, and in truth I don't think she's very good (but you might disagree, and I can't find much online so my sample size is really small, so by all means check her out and form your own opinion), but it’s a damned shame that an honest, sincere writer got sucked into this mess. But it’s typical of how Merica works, init? Wealthy sociopaths do something appalling and cynical aimed at separating folks from a few more dollars and stomping anything of legitimate cultural value, while good-faith, innocent working people take the beating for it. Sound familiar?

Had I not given creative writing up to be a photographer I might be thinking hey, there’s a poem in there somewhere.

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