Wednesday, June 14, 2006

In Praise of Hall

Big news today, people! Beeeeeg news. No, I’m not talking about the quickie Prez Bush gave the soon-to-be assassinated Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki in Baghdad yesterday, sneaking in and out of the country under cloak of darkness in a manner more befitting a discreet whore than the “leader” of the free world. I’m not referring to the fact that Rove wriggled out of yet another indictment, pinning all Plame on a Muppet named Scooter. (Seriously, how many souls can Rove have to sell to the devil? You gotta figure even Lucifer is getting suspicious of the dude at this point… unless, of course, he is Lucifer, which has always been the viewpoint of this editorial page.)

Nope, I’m talking something far more grandiose and important to the soul of our nation (assuming we still have one): the appointment of Donald Hall , the man at the right who looks suspiciously like the actor Rip Torn, to the position of.... wait for it… Poet Laureate! “Well wait a second,” you’re thinking to yourself. “First Scott McClellan, now this? What’s this shake up supposed to prove? Besides, I thought Maya Angelou was doing a fine job.” And I’ll be forced to remind you that no, Angelou was never actually the head cheese PL, she was just an honoree at Oprah’s Legends Ball, which, arguably was a lot better for sales.

But let’s for a moment forget that you have no idea who Hall will be replacing. (Hint: it’s not Jewel, even if she has outsold Walt Whitman.) And let’s put aside the fact that the only poem you can remember start to finish deals with the Mudville Nine. What’s newsy about this particular appointment is that Donald Hall is a poet and a hater!

Just like Renée, he’s on record as being critical of the Religious Right’s influence on the government (so apparently he doesn’t get out much, either.) He’s called out members of Bush I’s administration for being art-bashing bullies. Hall recently said that if he sees a violation of the First Amendment, he’ll speak up about it – that’s right, he’ll probably dash off an angry sonnet or add a spiteful extra syllable to a haiku. Regarding the rest of the new job, he’s also quoted as saying, “I have a terrible miscellany of thoughts.” And, since as with most utterances of poets I have no idea what that means, I’ll just let those words speak for themselves.

Still, Mr. Hall looks to set an important agenda for himself: “I’d like to encourage NPR to pay more attention to poetry.” A noble goal indeed, and I wish him well on that! Now if he can first get Americans to pay more attention to NPR than say, Nascar, he’ll be off to the races.


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