Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Letter to George Steel and Ann Douglas

(The text of a letter I sent on May 1st, as a follow-up to the ULA's Howl event.)

To: George Steel, Miller Theater
To: Ann Douglas

One would HOPE that those who've made a commitment to the truth represented by literature would not readily misrepresent events.

MR. STEEL: You stated to Associated Press that the ULA was given an opportunity to speak at the microphone at your April 17th presentation. You were being disingenuous.

We informed those hosting the event beforehand of our Protest. We challenged beforehand those on stage to read against us. We spoke to one of your assistants the same day when we encountered her while handing out flyers on Columbia's campus.

Where was the invitation you extended to us? Do you have a copy?

The fact is, as you know, that I was taken out of the event by security; later allowed back to my seat. Presumably I might've been allowed to ask a question or two-- a right I should've had regardless.

Mr. Steel, your representation is wrong. The speech we expressed that evening was that which we took on our own. We well know that writers from our segment of the literary world, who don't carry official seals of Approval, would never be invited to share your stage.

As for the notion we had no point to make: This is ludicrous. Our point was written on our flyers; it was in our Protest and our presence. It can be found in the WNYC interview and on our web site-- if you make the slightest effort to look for it.

MS. DOUGLAS: You stated, after we left, that all poets wish to be heard by fellow writers. Are we different? Why do you think we were there! You'll readily celebrate a co-opted underground poem of fifty years ago. When do you notice underground poets of NOW?

Two irrefutable facts:
1.) The excitement and energy present in Miller Theater that evening was brought by us. Curious that with our outbursts the show became interactive. Instead of sitting passively, the audience, those against us and for us, became involved. They became part of the event. The wall was torn down; the well-regulated scheduled agenda knocked askew. People felt free to shout aloud. This is the true meaning of literature and spirit of "Howl." (Our own events are always like this.)
2.) Media attention about the event, beforehand and afterward (WNYC, AP, etc.) was brought by us. We brought your event more notice than you obtained for it yourselves.
You have the opportunity to present the debate you now say you wanted. Given the ULA's demonstrated promotional ability, Columbia, Miller Theater, and literature would only benefit.

Do you have the imagination to respond to this letter and negotiate such an event?

Inviting writers who don't have certifications and standing in the hierarchy is a choice between intellectual aristocracy or cultural democracy.

You have the opportunity to open the culture-- in so doing to bring real excitement to literature and to Columbia.

We look forward to your response.


King Wenclas, Underground Literary Alliance

(I have yet to receive a response from these icons of free expression.)

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