Bad Taste in Poet's Mouth | Letters | Chicago Reader

Bad Taste in Poet's Mouth 

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To the editors:

I was pleased to see the article, in the Reader (Friday, July 27, 1990) about the Osaka Tree Poem contest [Hot Type]. And as a poet, I am especially proud since Pat Smith is one of my personal favorites. However I am compelled to mention how disappointed I was with the way the contest was run and how it turned out. Considering that Ms. Smith is the current Uptown Poetry Slam champion, she was the obvious choice to send to Japan in the first place. I wonder why they didn't just hand pick her instead of sending Chicago's poets through such trouble just to make it fair.

I read, in the article, that Ms. Smith works for the Chicago Sun-Times, the same newspaper that covered the Neutral Turf event and even did an article. Ms. Smith was on the Neutral Turf Committee (as it states in the Neutral Turf program flyer), a hostess at the event itself and she is also one of the coordinators of the Guild Complex and the events held there. Isn't there some kind of conflict of interest? Isn't there usually some type of prohibitory clause in contest rules that doesn't allow the organizers or their families to participate?

Pat Smith, in my mind, had the best tree poem of the finalists that were there at the Neutral Turf event and probably had the only poem that even mentioned Chicago in it. I commend her on her creativity, but every time I think about the contest, I get a horrible taste in my mouth. Maybe it's an epidemic, maybe it's just some bug going around, a lot of poets I have met have had the same problem. Then again, maybe it's just me.

A Fellow Chicago Poet

Michael Miner replies:

When the poetry movement in Chicago gets institutionalized it'll be run by managers. For now, it's run by poets. I noticed that Pat Smith was on the committee. It probably doesn't look good, but I think her victory was on the square. Chew a Tic Tac.

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