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Poetry in Motion


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To the editor,

I'm writing to clear up several misstatements of fact in the otherwise well-written piece by Deanna Isaacs, "John Barr, Poetry Czar" (Culture Club, February 13). As a journalist I understand how writers using other journalists' accounts compound these inaccuracies.

Firstly, there were no disagreements as to how the money should be spent. The only spending that has been considered or done was to get new space for [Poetry] magazine. In fact, the board of trustees of the Poetry Foundation has worked hard to establish a framework for good decision making. The appointment of Mr. Barr only begins that process.

Secondly, "the pot shrank rapidly" implies that here was some miscreancy within the Poetry organization. That has not happened. The "pot" has fluctuated with the value of Eli Lilly stock.

As to Joe Parisi running for cover, that's not the case either. Joe left on good terms because he wished to be an editor, not an administrator.

As a ten-year member of the Poetry board of trustees, I'd like to add that the egalitarian legacy of Harriet Monroe is (and will be) well honored. The Poetry board is a sound, thoughtful group. This marvelous gift by Ms. Lilly will be the stepping-stone for a further recognition of the art of poetry to move to the forefront of American culture.

Norris McNamara

W. Eugenie

Deanna Isaacs replies:

Financial "miscreancy"? A striking idea, but it never occurred to me. And I didn't write that Parisi left on bad terms either, though he may have. I had sources for what I did report; as far as I know, there were no misstatements of fact.

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