Strength through Peace
Never Mess with Poets
There has been a brouhaha in New Hampshire where the Governor decided to circumvent the process that has been used for the appointment of the last several State Poets Laureate. Normally, the Poetry Society of New Hampshire solicits nominations for the post, convenes a group which includes board members of the PSNH, past Poets Laureate, and interested people from other arts organizations in the state. This group reads the nominating papers of all the candidates, deliberates, and comes up with a nominee to suggest to the Governor. The Governor respects that selection and sends it to the Executive Council, which is responsible for approving all such nominations. Instead, this year, the Governor chose a retired dentist who attended the governor’s inauguration and serves on a board with the Governor’s wife. This dentist had been a county Poet Laureate in NY state, and, until quite recently, was pretty much an unknown poet. He achieved sudden fame when a writer for Slate magazine unearthed a poem, described by said dentist as an adolescent fantasy, in which the protagonist of the poem contemplates having sex with Condoleezza Rice. The poem’s cringe-worthy title is “White on Rice.” News of all this got covered by AP, The Guardian, The Washington Post, and other news outlets. The Governor said he never formally nominated said dentist and is apparently now trying to work with the PSNH to move a nomination forward. Earlier in the month the Governor had been rebuked when the Executive Council refused to confirm his State Supreme Court nominee, a fellow with no judicial experience. The governor may be learning a hard lesson about hubris - just because you can does not necessarily mean you should do a thing.