September 30th, 2011 / 11:44 am

Protest, Protest, everywhere. Even at the Poetry Foundation!


  1. jtc

      I don’t like what the pharmaceutical industry has supposedly (maybe clearly) become.

      I don’t like the idea of people using Prozac to deal with issues in their lives that could be dealt with in more identity/self-finding/developing ways.

      I’m inclined to agree with Brooks, because of this.

      But, I also know that I know less than shit about Prozac. So, when I think like this (above), I usually don’t say it, because I know–knowing that I don’t know shit–that I’m probably talking out of my ass.

      Are there people who genuinely need Prozac? If so, is it not good that they have the opportunity to receive that needed medication? And was Emily Dickinson actually depressed, or just a weirdo? [nothing wrong with weirdos]

      Also, what little I know about the Lilly Foundation (and a quick fact check of it on wikipedia) contradicts at least the spirit of the lonely concrete information I received from the essay: The Lilly Foundation “Endowment is separate from the company. The Endowment, a private foundation, is in a different location, has a different board of directors, and is not linked to the company, except for the significant
      percentage of the company’s stock it holds.”

      Now, that whole issue of stocks is still a scary one. But, it’s not as bad as it seems. Right?

      All that being said, however, my feeling is that Lilly should move their building. Current location sounds like shit.

  2. Janey Smith

      Let’s dance!

  3. Guest

      The result of the Occupy Wall Street protest is that they summoned Radiohead. 

  4. mimi


  5. Vivian

      The Poetry Foundation was funded by a gift in trust from Ruth Lilly and has nothing to do with the Lilly company or the Foundation.

  6. Russ

      I really like Tim Jones-Yelvington’s comment on the article:

      “…I gotta say that while big pharm is clearly a source of systematic evil
      in our world, as an ally to disability rights communities and friend to
      folks coping w/ mental illness, this specific rhetoric around mood
      disorder medication strikes me as kinda ableist.”

      The position that medicating for mental issues is inherently a bad idea is something that can be really alienating to people who have found medications that allow them to function in a way they feel they can’t when unmedicated.  It makes them feel like their mental problems ‘aren’t real problems’ or that they are making them up, and thus that they are either just lazy whiners or deeply flawed freaks.  Growing up I felt really insecure about how incapable my ADHD made me at school, and I took it really hard whenever people would say things about how the whole disorder was bullshit, because that was the only thing that let me feel like all the disapproval and lecturing I got was somehow not my fault.  In retrospect I was a really well intentioned kid, just one who absolutely could not make himself focus.  I never found a medication that worked for me long-term, but using them sparingly once I got a feel for how they worked with my body was the only way I was able to finish my BA, and later on, my MLS.  And that’s a small issue compared to some of the other disorders people have where they not only can’t function in school, but can’t even function in everyday life.  I just can’t get behind any group that puts up a banner like the Prozac one they used.

  7. Russ
  8. Guest

      not to be a jerk but:

      so technically, the money comes from the lilly company.

  9. deadgod

      So the protesters want the Poetry Foundation to take its dope millions and become an NGO in America’s “impoverished communities”.

      Is the “Croaton Poetic Cell” a Klan outfit?

  10. Vivian

      Yes naturally she–or rather her Conservator–gave Lilly stock to fund the gift. But neither the company nor the foundation were involved.  The intermittently accurate article you cite (“sole living heiress”) suggests she might have been a loyal user of the company’s products.

      The Poetry Foundation actually fought a bitter lawsuit over its gift of Lilly stock.  Here’s an account in verse:

  11. MJ

      No matter how much you try to debate the separation, the name of the Lilly group is labeled all over the Poetry Foundation. You can argue the point til your blue m’dear, but the case still stands. They’re connected. Get over it.

  12. MJ

      No G, I think a lot of that comment (that comment being someone, somewhere, who mentioned something along the lines of what you’re commenting on) comes from a lot of poets are simply disconnected from “the real world”. A lot of poets don’t know what its like to walk through Compton or Long Beach and have someone roll up to them and say, “Where you from”, and understand all the connotations entailed. A lot of poets don’t know what its like to contemplate the choice between drinking lots of water and not eating food, or eating more food in lieu of drinking water, because, you know, you’re dead broke. And a part of this can be seen in Poetry Magazine and the work they publish. A lot of this can be seen in the Poetry foundation and its utter alienation from impoverished communities. There is a lot more to do done with poetry than to build a large fucking house on the hill. If you want poetry to uhh, “survive” (whatever that means), then try doing what makes sense: going person to person, talking with them, not down to them, not at them, not around them, but to them. And talk to people who you wouldn’t normally talk to. You can label everyone within the organization this way, but the poetry (especially poetry) community at large is kind of ignorant to whats really going on in the world — but not every poetry community, specifically the American University Poetry Community (APUPC — copyright term, and new creature rarely seen in public but always seen in public).

  13. MJ

      And by the way, Ms Vivian, unless I am mistaken, the lawsuit was also fought due to the fact the stock dropped in price and the ‘Company’ was thought to breach their contract with the non-profits by not matching the loss of stock price with the amount they were giving the foundations.

  14. Lilzed

      MJ, it seems like you rule.

  15. guest


  16. Vivian


      There’s no debating the separation: it’s a simple fact. As to your reading of the lawsuit, it has nothing to do with the company, only the value of its stock. If your intent is to question the mission of the Poetry Foundation, its suing of its benefactor in the name of poetry seems a perfect place to start.  


  17. Elizabeth Rain Adams

      For some reason the “polite police” refused to post the following over at Montevidayo. Must be too true or something. Here goes:

      By Elizabeth Rain Adams

      I’m made uncomfortable by news of these protests. I believe
      that the Poetry Foundation has the best of intentions, namely to inseminate
      poetry throughout the world. I must admit I have a slight bias in the matter.
      Allow me, as they say, to “toot my own horn” for a moment. I was given the
      honor of interviewing the six poets who are going to be participating in the
      delightful “Poets Forum” in New York City in late October. Oh I’m so excited!
      Gabrielle Calvocoressi, Matthew Dickman, and Cate Marvin will be on a panel
      entitled “Regional Aesthetics and Sensibility in American Poems,” and Cathy
      Park Hong, Ilya Kaminsky, and Evie Shockley will be on a panel entitled,
      “Vision and Innovation in Contemporary Poetry.” I took a little time off from
      my vigorous MFA course load to sit down with these six wonderful contemporary
      poets and ask them a few questions.


      Adams: “Cathy, can you tell us what you think about the U.S.
      Military’s continued presence in the Middle East, particularly as that presence
      relates to the deaths-by-burning of Iraqi and Afghani children?”


      Cathy Park Hong: “It’s more that my ideas have changed about
      what poetry should do. When I was younger, I used to be more idealistic about
      poetry’s function in society—that political action and intervention were
      possible via restructuring of language. But now, I think, maybe it’s enough
      that poetry can nourish individual consciousness or, to put it another way,
      maybe it’s enough that poetry’s primary purpose is to make people feel things…”


      Adams: “Such as the feeling of being burned down to ashes in
      a drone attack?”


      Ilya Kaminsky: “If one isn’t good enough to write something
      that Coleridge or Nabokov would find of interest, why bother? Of course one
      must be humble. But not when one chooses the group of dead friends to sit
      around and listen to. That is what we call ‘education’.”


      Adams: “Thanks for mentioning ‘education,’ Ilya. I was
      wondering, considering the state of our economy, and in particular the state of
      public education, if you feel that the $21.5 million the Poetry Foundation
      spent on their new building in Chicago could have been divided into seven $3
      million amounts, to be distributed to seven schools in low-income areas of


      Evie Shockley: “There is an emptiness on a page, a vacuum
      represented and magnified by the whiteness of the space, that goes until it
      ends, but even in ending implies an endless continuation of that blank refusal
      of inscription, and I begin to muss it up, to get it dirty, to bring it into
      contact with the world in which it exists…”


      Adams: “Oh, ok. I think I understand. Thanks for clarifying,
      Evie. So, Matthew, I’m wondering if you’d let me know what you think of this
      idea: I think with the global climate changing so much due to fossil fuel use,
      that all us poets, especially poets from such ‘green’ cities as Portland,
      should vow not to fly or drive for a year, and should walk to all our readings,
      staying with friends along the way, sort of like how Ginsberg and Snyder used
      to, and then maybe the auks would have a chance to live, and maybe we’d all be
      better friends, and…”


      Matthew Dickman: “I don’t think [the world has] changed as
      much as it has found some definition. More and more I feel that I’m writing
      poems to understand both the world and my place in the world. That, like Césaire
      wrote, it establishes me at the living heart of myself and the world…something
      like that!”


      Adams: “Oh, ok! Never mind, man! Oh, by the way, remember
      last spring you visited my MFA program because we were thinking about maybe
      hiring you to teach me, but then you decided to take a job with GAP instead,
      writing little jingles for their commercials? You don’t? Oh, well over drinks
      (thanks again for paying, I’m so poor these days!) you asked me to send you a
      poem, so I did, but you never responded…”


      Cate Marvin: “I like to think of poets as moving through the
      world with their minds poised like nets, intent on capturing scraps of
      language, resonant images. Thinking as a poet means viewing the world as a
      poem; thus, the poet is prone to existing in real space and time in a most
      vulnerable manner. This means being super-observant wherever your physical self
      takes your mind, as it requires being terribly receptive to light, images,
      movement, conversations between others, oddities many might be inclined to overlook
      in newspaper headlines, heatedly intimate conflicts overheard in public places,
      disingenuous directions offered by advertisements and street signs, etc.”


      Adams: “Oh, ok. I think I understand why Matthew took that
      job at GAP now. Hmm, let’s see. I’m almost out of questions. Oh, I’m sorry
      Gabrielle, did you want to say something?”


      Gabrielle Calvocoressi: “I am on Facebook and Twitter.
      Avidly. Though right now I have told myself that I will not go on until I’ve
      finished all the things I need to finish. I really love the community Facebook
      affords and I like watching people perch on their virtual branch and tweet. I
      do worry about becoming hooked on it so I have various rules for myself. I used
      to try and write poems up there and now I don’t because it takes something from
      me in terms of the privacy required for a poem. I do have a Twitter feed where
      sometimes I think about the third book but that’s only got 28 followers and
      that’s just fine.”


      Adams: “Great! I hope you get more followers soon, Gabrielle!
      And thanks to all six of you! See you again in New York City in October at the
      Poets Forum!”

  18. Lilzed

      ????? is this for real? as in a true, unedited transcript of what people said? either it’s edited, they are truly dodging your questions that badly, or they are speaking in code.

      why did you write you feel uncomfortable about news of the protests?

  19. deadgod

      I don’t think most students and teachers in the AUPC are all that “alienat[ed]” from what you claiming in the sense of ‘being ignorant’ – unconscious of want, of oppression, of sovereignty diffused so as never to be democratized.

      I think they spend their privilege the way they do for the same reason you might spend your privilege taunting them here:  they like how it feels.

      The testosterotesters at the Poetry Foundation event featuring Zurita weren’t – at that moment – in one of the “impoverished communities” whose interests they were championing.  I’d rather be at a Poetry Foundation do than ‘peace out’ing in a self-destructively violent neighborhood, too. 

      –but if the banner hangers want the Poetry Foundation actually to change–for example, to make the poetry that’s already there in “impoverished communities” part of attacking systemic pauperization–, maybe they could communicate with the Poetry Foundation in ways less easy to dismiss on the grounds of puerile self-congratulation–ironically, quite the grounds on which one might protest the AUPC (as (I think) Elizabeth Rain Adams has done below).

  20. Cremistress

      “Inseminate the world with poetry” Ha ha more sexist racist blackface dogshit from kent Johnson and crew under the banner of some nebulous politics. he’ll go behind the scenes and lick the poetry foundation’s asshole. I’m so fucking sick of this fucking shit. If I could I would desttroy the entire internet today i would. 

  21. EC

      Excellent bit of satire — thank you, ERA!

  22. Elizabeth Rain Adams

      Thanks, Creamistress! See you at the Poets Forum later this month! All best,

  23. Cremistress

      I wouldn’t be caught dead at such an event unless I had a molotov* in hand.

      *I am referring to a martini, of course.

  24. Cremistress

      , dickweed