Ever seen a shitstorm? Head on over to the poetry_slam listserve for a peek at one. Woah!
I didn’t start it for once but damn if I didn’t throw a few tough ones to the body! I really hate that list because it brings out the worst in me. I’m admittedly contentious and have rarely come across a fight I didn’t think I could win but shit, this can’t be good for my mental health! It’s like a mutually abusive relationship. I really have to consider stepping away from it completely because I certainly don’t know how to keep my mouth shut.
The most ridiculous thing to come out of the fracas was the assertion that Marc Smith’s comments in the Chicago Reader article (which I’ve now read and found much more disparaging than the quotes I’d seen) were the result of a savvy muckraker that was looking for dirt on the slam. Some of the MarcSmith Fedayeen have jumped to his defense, saying that NPS needed the press and the story was exaggerated and Marc’s a great guy and blah blah blah.
Here’s some of the highlights from the article and my objections:
Steve Marsh, who agrees that the organization struggled while Smith was gone: “There were people who tried to provide leadership but didn’t come to it with the same moral authority.”
BULLSHIT! Lack of moral authority or the simple fact that they were not Marc and certain veterans would only answer to him? Why bother with the sabbatical if you’re going to manipulate things from behind the scenes? Interesting that Mike Henry seems to have the “moral authority” to track down grant money from the NEA but not enough to be allowed to do his job as President.
[Smith] says some of the people who tried to step in while he was gone were looking to use the slam for personal gain. “This thing that I started and have put so much energy into [but] have never exploited for my own purposes. I was pissed off.”
BULLSHIT! Really? And who exactly are these people, considering that the current EC and staff are almost all people that were in the mix while he was gone? As one of the few not still there, I guess I’m one of them, to which I say a big “Fuck you!”
Also, for someone who’s sole claim to fame is creating the slam, talking about anyone “exploiting” it for their own purpose is hypocrisy to the highest degree. Checked out www.slampapi.com lately?
Simmons’s HBO show Def Poetry Jam approached PSI looking for some “diverse people.” Mike Henry, who served as president in Smith’s absence, gave them some names, and slam poets began to appear on the show. “That gave a big boost to their program,” says Smith.
BULLSHIT! As if Def Jam couldn’t have connected to this community without PSI? As if they didn’t rather quickly and easily when a short-sighted EC tried to flex with a trademark claim, an invalid one at that?
That’s just the blatant stuff. The overall tone he takes, as if without him, slam would cease to exist, is both dismissive to the efforts of the local communities that keep PSI afloat as well as just being pathetic and silly.
I can’t wait til Saturday and we’re on the road to the Poconos. And, of course, my birthday! Calgon, take me away!