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Poet laureates should be populist

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Regarding the NC poet laureate tempest and Chris Vitiello's article, "What is a N.C. poet laureate?" (Aug. 6) I find myself thinking, a pox on them all, from Pat McCrory to the so-called "North Carolina literary community," to the grandiose laureateship itself.

 Is it actually required that the PL have a teaching background and work published in "legitimate presses" and "reputable magazines"?  Is it actually required that the PL teach poetry workshops all across the state? Why must the Art Council's guidelines be so particular, and exclusive. 

Is this what we mean by promoting the very public (populist) craft of poetry? How thin. The irony is that Ms. Macon is a NC Poetry Society member and committee leader. Why isn't that qualification enough? For all we know, she had the energy and the commitment to promote poetry all across the state, perhaps with the help of some of the more qualified. Unfortunately, she was shouted out of office fast—we'll never know. McCrory's sneering charges of elitism are what you'd expect from the State Capitol these days. But Kathryn Stirpling Byers' tut-tut about "the laureateship" and "what's at stake" is hardly more laudable, and what you'd expect from the former-laureate power base quoted in Vitiello's story.

 Clark Holtzman, Chapel Hill

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