Funny how performance poets, who aim largely to be provocateurs, toss a conniption on those rare occasions when they succeed [Culture Club, August 16]. One ear's choir preacher is another ear's rhetorical offender, and the numerous out-loud readers who embrace those roles should be ready at least with quick wit, quick fists, or--God forbid--a poem that charms, when they hear sounds from the folks they've just offended.
Moreover, one man's boycott is another man's flight. A unilateral withdrawal of poetry from a breezy August weekend, whose strollers might stand to be piqued by a piece from Lucille Clifton or Kenneth Koch, looks like a case of face spiting. We poets love to invoke the W.C. Williams line from "Asphodel" about men dying every day for lack of the news found in poetry, but when we hole up we find that the world and its festivals get along without us very well.
Ars so longa,