Friday, January 07, 2005

I'm annoyed, and I'm not even a poet

As a teenager I tried my hand at writing poetry. The phase was short-lived because I quickly discovered that if I couldn't be Emily Dickinson, I didn't want to play.

That doesn't mean I didn't feel a strong pang of sympathy for poets in Montana when I came across this article (via ArtsJournal) in the Billings Gazette. It seems that some folks in Montana are eager to snag themselves a poet laureate:

Under the bill, the Montana Arts Council would supply the governor with the names of three qualified Montana poets. The governor would then appoint a poet from the list to hold the honorary post for two years. The poet laureate would receive no compensation but would promote the arts throughout Montana.

As I understand it, here's the deal: A clueless lawmaker has decided to class up the state, and what better way to promote the arts than to trot out a poet laureate? Since Senator John Cobb apparently believes poets are either (a) dumber than rocks, (b) independently wealthy, or (c) dumb and wealthy, it doesn't occur to him that some compensation might be in order for an individual who would be expected to traipse all over Montana yammering about how important Art is to our society.

"It's just a nice thing to do,'' Cobb said of the proposed post. "It doesn't solve any problems, but it's something the government does.''

Ah. Thank you for clearing that up, Senator. Many of us are aware that the government doesn't actually solve problems, so we're gratified to learn that its function is to do Nice Things for us. Like enslaving poets for our betterment.

"I think it's a grand idea,'' said Arni Fishbaugh, executive director of the Montana Arts Council. "Many other states have poet laureates, and Montana is known for the outstanding quality of its poets and writers."

Arni, I think we're all pretty clear on how you feel about poets and writers. They give, you take, and everybody's happy, right? I'm just wondering how an individual with such a low regard for artists managed to become executive director of the Montana Arts Council.

Sheesh. And here I thought romance writers didn't get no respect. My advice to poets in Montana: move. Montana doesn't deserve you.


Anonymous said...

you are right the poets should get payed for what they do, and I for one have a great deal of respect for romance writers like yourself,
your buddy from Mo,

Brenda Coulter said...

I appreciate that, Buddy from MO. Bless your heart.

Anonymous said...

Just as I was thinking, "I need to email this woman and tell her what a joy it is to read actual transitory thoughts," scrolling revealed your request that adoration be of a more public nature.

During my self-allotted morning news/blog reading I arrived in the Brendasphere by happy accident (via Rox Populi’s blog) and braving the "next blog" button through a miasma of invective, idiocy and porn.

None of this pertains to poetry and the Montana troglodyte, but as one of the The Few, The Proud, The Readers who fear that cadence in writing is terminally ill, thank you for this literary crash cart…consider yourself bookmarked.


Brenda Coulter said...

Wow, JH. You found my blog to be a "literary crash cart"? I'm quivering with joy! Although it occurs to me that after emerging from that "miasma of invective, idocy and porn", you would have loved any blog that didn't include elements from that unholy trinity.

Still, I am excessively flattered. Thank you for the note.

Anonymous said...

That is so wrong! They should be paid!
I do like "literary crash cart" though. ;-)