FULL DISCLOSURE: Mary Grabar is at it again. I got a phone call from the letter's editor at Creative Loafing today asking for clarifications on some of the new charges Mary is making in her ongoing campaign to root out the evil left-wingers in Atlanta's poetry community. Before Mary 's latest missive hits CL on Thursday, I want to make a clarification of my own about an issue I'm sure Mary is going to blow out of proportion and use in an attempt to strengthen her position of exclusion.

Sometime between her original column in CL attacking the Java Monkey Slam and her rebuttal letter two weeks later, changes were made to the Poetry Atlanta website. I am the webmaster. While I was cleaning up the site...updating bios, posting news items and cleaning up the events calendar (which is done on a monthly basis), I realized that on the "About Poetry Atlanta" page the heading for the board members said "Executive Board." During this same time, I was finishing up the final paperwork for the grant, including updating our list of board members. When Poetry Atlanta decided to branch out, a "Community Board" was created, of which I am a member. I, along with Kodac Harrison and the other members, am listed as a "Community Board Member" in all official paperwork. However, when the website was created last year, in error I put "Executive Board" and it was never corrected. In those final weeks of April, I corrected it, and never gave it another thought.

When Mary Grabar was looking for info about Poetry Atlanta, she apparently visited the website before the changes and saw "Executive Board," so that's where her comment about a "member of the executive board making personal attacks" came from in her letter. I own up to this error and can't fault Mary for putting forth this information. I never thought Mary Grabar would be using this as part of her "defense" in her crybaby letter of protest about the "personal attacks" made on her person. It's too bad she never bothered to contact me about Poetry Atlanta, since I am the point of contact on the website. Both my personal email address and the PA email link are there. Of course this makes me look a bit foolish for stridently stating in my letter that I was not a member of the "executive board," so I stand corrected. We all make mistakes. I hope Mary can own up to hers.

This fact remains: whether we are the "executive board" or the "community board," we are indeed the board. We make decisions, select projects and apply for the grants. I'm sure Mary will try to split hairs over this confusion in the name, but the confusion is only in a title. What is also a matter of fact is that Mary' has had no official communication with Poetry Atlanta, which still makes her claims of feeling excluded by the organization false. It makes me wonder if she's gotten the Java Monkey open mic and Poetry Atlanta somehow confused in her mind. Other than supporting the slam team and the anthology, Java Monkey receives no other funding from Poetry Atlanta.

CL also indicated that Mary is denying that she has been asked to read at local poetry readings. I'll be interested to see if she tries to worm her way out of this in an attempt to save face. Since Mary is an avid reader of this blog (Hi, Mary), she will know that three invitations were made here publicly. I cannot speak for Kodac, but I know he asked her at least twice and he said she declined. That's too bad. I'd still like to hear her work to see if it measures up against all those poets she so casually dismissed at Java Monkey. Until she does, her points are moot.

If she perceives my responses to her opinions as "personal attacks," so be it. If she wants to criticize an entire community of writers for not falling into lockstep with her political beliefs and personal taste, that's her own business, but she can't get upset when there's an unflattering response. I'm sure she'd like to censor responses that cast her in a negative way. It brings to mind that great line from the Patsy Cline story, Sweet Dreams: People in hell want ice water, but that don't mean they get it.

The editor at CL may choose not to publish Mary's letter or column this week. Whether he does or does not, I wanted this information posted somewhere for the record.

Comments

Teamaster said…
Appropriate admission, Collin. Heh. Clean slate. :)

At this point, frustration is justifiable in my book. Hell, as I've said before, a potentially cool forum could result from a meeting of the minds (Mary and your gang). But so much is wasted on tribalism, eh?

Cripes, a whole event gimmick could be made from the conflict! Imagine a Java Monkey Slam poster:

ELEPHANTS AND DONKEYS MEET AT THE MONKEY!

(Get it? Reps and Dems?) :)

-D.
nolapoet said…
I love the poster idea. Let's do it old woodcut style with as tall font like late-19c. circus poster!

As an old newsie, not as a poet, I must say this: The first rule of journalism (conveniently overlooked far too often these days) is: GO TO THE SOURCE. If you can't ask someone face-to-face or at least over the phone, then you haven't given the source a chance to tell his/her side of the story.

If you don't have the nerve to face someone before spreading tales about what he or she allegedly has done, then your credibility is shot. Reporting without fact-checking is gossip.
Collin said…
Very true, Robin. If Mary had bothered to call me, email me, post a comment on the blog, much of this back and forth could have been avoided.

I asked the Creative Loafing letter's editor how they could possibly continue to publish MG's rants about Java Monkey, when she admits she hasn't been there since last fall and knows nothing about the slam or the poets who read there on a regular basis. It's unconscionable to me.

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