WITHDRAWING THE OLIVE BRANCH: So after I wrote the post below, the new issue of Creative Loafing hits the stand, and here's Mary Grabar's response. Here she attacks those who wrote the letters in last week's edition, my blog and then makes a personal swipe at Java Monkey Coffee House and Poetry Atlanta.


Both of the letter writers in Going Postal, April 28 (about my Creative Loathing column, "Shouts and Gestures," April 21), serve to confirm my general impression: Poetry has become the tool for radical left-wingers who simply dismiss the opinions and arguments of those with whom they disagree, as Rupert Fike revealed in his statement, "This presidency is now famous for suppressing any internal opinions which might possibly go contrary to what they've already decided to do - but at least with slams, human lives are not needlessly sacrificed." There are many who disagree with this statement that Fike presents as fact.

The personal attack on my ethnic heritage by Owen Talley confirms my observation that only certain ethnic groups are respected by such defenders of the radical left. He ignores the point I made in my column: "I am not advocating equal time for poetry that takes a position from the right. It would also be street theater and not poetry." The personal attacks on me on the website of a member of the executive board of Poetry Atlanta (an organization funded with tax dollars) confirms my impression that those like me, who express a view contrary to that of the clique of the poets in power in Atlanta, are not welcome.

These letter writers and bloggers ignore my point about the role of poetry. Of course, I am not opposed to poets holding slams and readings with a political slant at any private venue, using their own money.

But the owners of places like Java Monkey should know that those like me and my poetry-reading, Kerry-supporting friends are turned off by the nature and form of much of the poetry that is read and performed at slams and open-mic nights. Of course, it's the owner's choice to continue events. What I objected to in my article was the use of my tax dollars for groups like Poetry Atlanta that exclude those like me.

- Mary Grabar, Stone Mountain

For the record, Mary Grabar has had no contact with Poetry Atlanta and has not been excluded from anything supported by Poetry Atlanta. Since she has declined to read or share her work, claiming that she's been excluded by any organization is ludicrous. A total lie, a fabrication, a falsehood. Shame on you, Mary.

I am not a member of the executive board of Poetry Atlanta, as she claims. I am a member of the community board, and, yes, it was me who spent countless hours writing the grant that got the funding not only for the slam team, but for other projects that we do for the entire community. Another instance of Mary not doing her homework. I suppose I should be flattered that I am apparently part of the "clique of the poets in power" in Atlanta, but her penchant for twisting fact into fiction is more disturbing than anything else.

As for my personal attacks against her, Mary Grabar chose to write her scathing, inaccurate column and began this debate. Just as she would silence the "radical left-wingers," she would like to silence my personal opinion by portraying it as a "personal attack." Nice try, Mary. It's more a case of she can dish it out, but she can't take it. Her response to Rupert Fike's letter is typical right-wing conservative rhetoric, but her response to Owen Talley about the "radical left" excluding her because of her ethnic heritage is frankly sad.

This is a very bitter, unhappy artist taking her frustrations out on other artists. She should apologize to the owners of Java Monkey, because her comment about their business is beyond the pale. This is an unveiled attempt to try and influence the owners to ban Java Monkey Speaks (which, by the way, Creative Loafing has voted best place to hear spoken word year after year).

No one's excluding you, Mary. You're doing that quite nicely on your own.



I know your type. Let me guess, you weren't very popular in high school. And now you want to take it out on who you perceive to be the cool kids? How pathetic.

Here's a novel idea, Mary:

Why don't you start your own poetry organization, write your own

That's the beauty of living in a free country!

While you're at it, you'll need to secure an appropriately sized venue. (Sorry, Java Monkey is already taken.) Turner Field is busy with the Braves these days, but I'm sure while the Falcons are in off-season, the Georgia Dome will be dying to have you.

I can see it now, dozens - no, hundreds - no, thousands! - of poets lyricizing the virtues of the President of the United States. Isn't that what you want, Mary? His plain-spokenness, his conviction, his... courage? Each and every Sunday for two hours week after week after week, Mary. It would be like Heaven, Mary. Even better, it would be like the Southern Baptist Convention!

Can't you see it? Are you getting the vision? Or are you blind, Mary? Do you have problems finding the writers who share your views at Java Monkey?

Perhaps you're looking in the wrong place. You don't want a poetry reading. You want conservative talk radio in a coffee shop. Yeah, that's REAL cool. Sean Hannity reciting an abcederian. Rish Limbaugh spouting a villanelle. And you, Mary - not way in the back criticizing, but on stage as the emcee? I'd pay to see that!

C'mon, Mary. Whaddya say? You'll show them at Java Monkey what a REAL reading is. Yes, Mary, you can be a cool kid, too!
Collin said…
Love it!
Teamaster said…
Well, I respect both sides of the "issue." Folks of different opinions, worldviews, and preferences can/do use strong language and voice strong opinions.

If I were Mary, I might join the group and just belt out my own work. Put the money where the other mouths are, so to speak, and see what happens.

If the audience (which she perceives to be biased) receives her respectfully (without being compelled to applaud a crummy bit, of course), then case closed. The real test of tolerance in any place or by any group is reception - and mutual respect, not necesarily political/philosophical support.

This way, minds meet instead of barbed words and preconceptions - benefitting both "camps." (Hell, even the Civil War soldiers often met in No Man's Land to fraternize and relax with each other while the battles were on hold.)

As for bias in general, I say this: If you knock bias, knock it if it's obvious on your side as well as the other side(s). Acknowledgment is the key. Of course bias exists. Humans are discerning, evaluating creatures. This entails bias.

Mary may point to biases in places - and she does so FROM a bias. And vice versa.

I've friends who knock Fox News for righty bias - but refuse to admit that Moyers or Franken are biased preachers of *their* gang.

I know others who knock the relatively new Air America for its lefty slant, but dig Limbaugh, etc.

Ho hum.

Nice fray. But I hope there can be a meeting of the minds in the future. That'd be much cooler. :)

Invite her to an event. Seriously. And be gracious. See what happens. She might surprise folks - and they might surprise her.

Rupert said…
2 Hour Sonnet with Bad Feet

When in the fervour of Lit-Crit disputes
Why attend ramparts, forsaking our pens
For bile and insult instead of salutes
To fellows who otherwise might be friends?
Come then we'll raise toasts to all things formal,
What's surely no threat to the 'Hood's rhymers - Conversing in lines with those immortal,
Who each, in their turn, removed tired blinders,
Like Whitman, Joyce and others eclectic
Ignoring attacks from entrenched Old Guard
Much as Dylan did when he went electric,
Yet honoring his namesake, that Welsh bard.

Not to equate Miss Bishop and Shakur,
But let us, to the street, not be inured
Anonymous said…
ooooo-WEEEE! yes, mary, slam finalists do sometimes write sonnets!
Teamaster said…

Ever consider having some of your reading gigs videotaped and streamed on your site? Might be cool.

Collin said…
As I've said, Mary has been invited to two different readings and has declined. She's going to sit behind her computer and give a "poor me" song and dance about "personal attacks." Put up or shut up...it's easy as that.
Teamaster said…
Ah. Quite. Oh well. :)
Anonymous said…
Hey Collin --

Found your blog via Technorati. As an FYI, I'm forwarding your blog post to CL's editor-in-chief.

Next time around, link to us!

-- LauraFries.com, web editor, Creative Loafing
Collin said…
Laura, I often link to Creative Loafing, and if you read any other posts on the site concerning Mary Grabar and her column, you would see the links. Her original column did not appear on the website, and so many people wanted to read it, I typed it in by hand. I typed in her response letter before I realized you guys had put it online.

Most of what is in this post was published in the last edition. I'm hoping the Mary Grabar saga is over. Thanks for checking out the blog.

Is forwarding this post to the editor a threat or compliment? :)

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