October 16th, 2013 / 8:57 am

a not anonymous letter by cassandra gillig about the poetry foundation

guys i know we’ve been freakin’ out but for real GOOD NEWS the poetry foundation has heard our cries & last night i received a FIFTEEN DOLLAR BEST BUY GIFT CARD in the mail from them.  i also received:

  • two dollars and thirty five cents

  • a dog keychain

  • a buy 1 get 1 free coupon for a small ice cream cone at Culvers (expires 10/31!!)

(u can read abt this on my twitter where last night i covered this momentous string of events in real time) IM NOT LYING IT REALLY HAPPENED!!!!!!!!!

if u haven’t lived in chicago, u most likely don’t know much abt the operations of the Poetry Foundation IRL (from here on out, “pofo” cos that’s how we do it in the poWO-rld).  when i was 18 & a fresh young girl from the northern illinois suburbs, i moved to chicago to pursue my dream of being college educated.  not too late into my freshman year, i attended a series of events at the pofo building (the first poetry readings i ever went to).

the pofo building is also where i first read copies of two of the greatest books of all time, a fresh young voice from the plains by eileen myles (the greatest poet of all time), and (the greatest poet of all time) alice notley’s at night the states, a release from chicago press YELLOW PRESS which is near & dear to me.  the library at the foundation is a blessing for those who don’t have proper interlibrary loan access & what not.  i was so young & it was also the first place i saw books by ted berrigan which weren’t the sonnets.  i remember being w poet cean gamalinda & us thinking it was the end all be all.  yes, i mean, this is not health care, but it was nice.  i guess.  if nice is all i can muster?  so, with all of these things said, my appreciation for the pofo is there, though masked under thousands of complaints & frustrations & true agony/despair.

anyway, i thought i should first say that, “$7500 to poets in need” is a deceptively low number.  the pofo does give poets money to come read (& they aren’t always “established” poets & the money is devastatingly low), pay the harriet bloggers (a few of whom i know & most likely you, also, know 1 or 2; they need this money), has started to publish ACTUALLY TALENTED poets who need the $$$ (check out the 2 newest issues of poetry & their pay rates r all right so whoop de doo or whatever), pays a few employees salaries (most of whom r prob poets in need of a job so more whoop dedoo), plus the whole ruth lilly thing which is ballin as hell.  they may only give $7500 to poets because they are in need but there r a lot of other things going on it’s not like they’re only spending 8k a year but hoarding the other $.  it’s dishonest to bring up #’s without context WHO R WE, REPUBLICANS?  i have no idea what the real pofo budget looks like but for people who aren’t familiar w/ all of its operations, that initial low number is a good way of garnering support for a petition dishonestly.  so yes i guess the foundation gives $7500 w/ the explicit intention of helping poets out financially in a no-strings-attached kind of way.

am i justifying the pofo right now?  hell no COS I CAN GET YOU ANGRY W/O UNJUSTLY FRAMING SOMETHING

the pofo can absolutely eat my shit.  their staff has been rude & condescending to me & they spend a lot of money on dumb fancy foods for their receptions.  the building is an avant-garde shit show & a totally unnecessary expense.  if i were ruth lilly, i’d be rolling over in my grave.  (wow i hope this has no bearing on my eligibility to win the ruth lilly fellowship next year!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) there is a lot of money being blatantly wasted, this is what we need to address.  readings at the poetry foundation are in-your-face bougie affairs.  the building itself is a waste of money.  i have no idea what the other money that the pofo has is being spent on, but i know this $$$ could be used in much better ways.  if the pofo isnt giving more money out to poets they probably have other plans for the $ (right?).  it’s more effective to pinpoint exactly where they r going wrong & work to reverse that.  instead of sushi after a reading, a poet gets healthcare.  ok, small steps.  maybe they give out less free copies of poetry magazine & a poet gets healthcare?  who knows.  anyway, i think this whole thing is so strange.  the poetry foundation has been offensively wasting money for years; i wish someone would just address this head-on (maybe i have here?).  it’s disgusting.  i hope someone in that bougie ass glass tower reads this & realizes the error of his or her ways.  i own–i kid you not–a poetry foundation rubber bracelet.  if they made less swag they would certainly be able to fund more poets’ endeavors.

i think we can all agree that the anonymous letter which appeared on this website yesterday is STUPID so let’s proceed to ignore it or perhaps pretend this one appeared instead.   the poetry foundation should give all of its money to poets, but i don’t know a lot abt where that money is going & neither do the people who started the petition.  does anyone know?  is a budget available to the public?  let’s get the poetry foundation to stop giving out free alcohol after readings & start a fund w that dirty champagne money.  this is incoherent bc i wrote it at work.  i love everyone.  i love alice notley & eileen myles so much oh my god.  let’s burn down the poetry foundation.