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We don’t need no stinkin’ poet laureate July 11, 2008

Posted by The Typist in Toulouse Street.
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In another giant step towards the reinstatement of the Dark Ages, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal declined to send up the name of the Blanco-nominated poet laureate to the Senate for confirmation in the last legislative session. The story broke in the INDependent newspaper and was later taken up by the Lafayette Advertiser (but no other Louisiana news outlet I can find).

When asked by the Advertiser, Jindal or someone (it’s not possible to tell from the badly edited story) suggested that retired University of Lafayette professor Darrell Borque might be renominated.

In a quote that syntactically cannot be tied back to anyone named in the story, someone told the Advertiser, “In no way is it reflecting on him,” he said. He’s looking for the best and brightest, and after a review, that might be Bourque, he said.”

This is a dangerous and powerful position, poet laureate, so I guess we have to be careful. I mean, you don’t want just anyone going out into schools around small children teaching them about poetry. I mean, you know what artists are like. Better run this one past the Grand Inquisitor.

I can’t find any examples of his work published online, but there is a reference to him found on Google Books in verspers: Contemporary American Poems of Religion and Spirituality. I guess if you’re going to write about God or spirituality and expect to be renominated by the likes of Jindal you better be the right flavor of Godly.

Now in the great scheme of things maybe you don’t think this is important. Its not as if Louisiana isn’t rife with more serious problems. You may have noticed that here on Toulouse Street we think poetry is important. The schools should expose everyone to it as much as possible because it teaches the power of language and its uses and combines the imaginative with the analytical in a way that I can’t help but believe improves the thinking of those who read or study it.

Perhaps the Jindalites don’t agree, and couldn’t see the point in bothering to send Borque’s name up. More disturbing is the thought that someone in a post like this might be subject to the sort of ideological vetting common to the modern GOP even when patently illegal.

You can spend your time worrying about the War on Terror. I’m much more worried about the Taliban among us, the ones standing next to you in the grocery check outline who would cheerfully take on the task of loading the queers and apostates and liberals into the cattle cars. If this respected retired professor isn’t renominated, it will tell us something about just how deeply Jindal has drunk of the kool aid.

Update: If you came to this post directly, browse to http://www.toulousestreet.net and you can read a poem I found online.

Comments»

1. gregp - July 11, 2008

Darrell was one of my professors and one of my favorite people on the planet. His poetry, when he’s on, and he’s mostly on, is hypnotic and often breathtaking.

The point, I think, isn’t that we need or don’t need a poet laureate; the point is he had a contract and got screwed over and it’s one more ugly mark against Louisiana’s tally of contempt for education.

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2. Wet Bank Guy - July 11, 2008

If this actually put the state in some sort of breech of contract, all the worse. Still, I think the point that the Brown-educated Jindal is a religious philistine would cheerfully destroy equal-access public education should never be understated.

I personally look forward to college night at Ben Franklin High School next year, so I can stop at the Brown table for a moment and let them know I would support my child attending a school that can product someone like Jindal.

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3. Wet Bank Guy - July 11, 2008

I’m just afraid they’ll pick some church lady hack along these lines.

Oh! My Louisiana
Your bayous are so pretty
I must sing an hosanna
in a poem rather shitty.

Hey, that’s not bad. Maybe I should apply. Maybe this will help:

God bless Louisiana.
How faithful are her people
from Belle Chasse to TexArkAna
as they gather at Your steeple.

They do not think a monkey
is the father of their family
and teach their children manners
so their pants are not too droopy.

Hey, meter, rhyme (one notably bad) and topical, local content! Not bad for five minutes work. I think I should apply for this job. I think I could get past the screening. How much does this gig pay?

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4. KamaAina - July 11, 2008

Holy cats! I completely forgot about the Piyush-Brown connection. I’d actually been thinking of it as a good fit for Mlle. Toulouse, seeing as how it’s the strongest of the Ivies for performing arts and all. There goes that brilliant plan… then again, think about a certain member of the Yale Class of 1968…

And don’t think you’re getting the cushy job without any competition, either! Herewith, “Ode to Piyush”:

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
The Zephyrs suck,
And so do you!

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5. Wet Bank Guy - July 11, 2008

Mlle. Toulouse actually had her eye set on Columbia for a while, dreaming of living in New York, but that seems to have faded a bit much to her mother’s relief. All I could think of was: Road Trip to New York. Then I realized that I couldn’t afford to go there if I was helping to pay for Columbia.

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6. A heckler’s veto « Odd Bits of Life in New Orleans - October 16, 2008

[…] Louisiana’s Poet Laureate my be willing to speak out against this sort of thing. Oh, wait, we still don’t have one. Never […]

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