Valerie Macon, I apologize…

…for the terrible way you have been treated by the North Carolina writing community.  I read much of what transpired on Facebook with a sick stomach—feeling like a train wreck was happening before my eyes.  What’s worse?  You weren’t the conductor of any of this.  But I am guilty of not speaking up and saying “THIS IS WRONG, FOLKS.”  For that, I am so deeply sorry.

I don’t know you, but as a poet and editor and publisher, I want you to know: I should have supported your nomination, and I would have supported and welcomed you in our community around Charlotte.

Okay, so the process probably was handled wrong by our governor (whom I will not address my personal views about here).

But did poets in North Carolina really think it was okay to say, “Oh, I’m not condemning Valerie Macon, just the fact she was chosen and she is not worthy.”  That’s a crock of shit.  Shame on our community!  We ALL know better!  We all know that poets don’t make a living off selling books and have to work another job to survive.  And we all know that it’s really tough to get published as poets.

I always felt like, as poets, we understood, intuitively, how to convey our emotions.  Boy, was I wrong.  That whole “reputation” of actually feeling and understanding, I guess, is reserved for the poet alone.  Certainly, not in this instance, did many of “us” feel an ounce of empathy or even sympathy—even when the words were “couched” with phrasing appropriately so as to seem empathetic.

As NC-based publisher Scott Douglass posted today on Facebook:

I’ve watched and listened/read as the poet laureate issue played out because I didn’t think there was much to add to the discussion and, frankly, some folks were offering far too much and would have been wiser to shut the hell up for a while. We’re talking about a human being here in Valerie Macon, and some of the posts I’ve seen are absolutely insane. You don’t volunteer for this position; you are selected. Valerie Macon is a very nice person and—regardless of the credits—is dedicated to the craft. A lot of you folks ought to be ashamed of how your reactions reflected on her. This is a McCrory issue, a Republican we-don’t-care-about-the-arts issue. Vote better next time, so people like Valerie Macon don’t get swept away in the backwash.

Absolutely, Scott.  And while we’re talking about people who are too stuck in conservative views, just WHAT do you think all of you did?  First, you assumed (and speculated openly on Facebook) that Governor McCrory didn’t act the way he should because the process that “has always been in place” didn’t happen.

Admit it, folks.  The WHOLE THING is a political game.  We join writer’s clubs, have to belong to the prominent and recognized organizations, have to be professors, established, “toe the line” in order to ever be considered for a title such as “Poet Laureate” because those that came before us had to do it.  We cry, “foul” TO a political agenda on BEHALF of a political agenda.

Would it really have destroyed us to gather together and, instead of making a negative public display, said to Valerie personally, “Take my hand, and let’s walk through this process.  You are going to learn a lot and contribute a lot!”

Instead, we chose to divide as a community.  And Pat McCrory got more than he ever could have hoped for—a liberal community in-fighting and looking like a bunch of asses to the rest of the nation.

Like Scott said, if you don’t like him, don’t vote for him.  But don’t torture innocent individuals because you don’t agree with his politics.

So, yes, shame on all of us for not handling this situation better—for not standing as a community in support of our Poet Laureate, Valerie Macon.  We have blackened that title now, and I pray for the next individual chosen.

But, most of all, shame on ME for not saying this a whole lot sooner.

Anne Kaylor

Editor, Publisher, and Chagrined and Feeling not-too-proud-of-our-state Fellow Poet

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~ by Anne Kaylor on July 18, 2014.

One Response to “Valerie Macon, I apologize…”

  1. Yes, where was the NC Poetry Society in all this? She was left alone with the wolves. Not very nice after all the work she had done for them.

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