July 2, 2014

<i>July 2, 2014</i><br><br><br>


by G. Tod Slone

My neighbor gave me the week’s batch of Cape Cod Times and Barnstable Patriot, as she’d been doing for the past year.  So, per usual, I rapidly leafed through the inevitable vacuity, always astonished when I found just one article of even remote interest.  This time not one, but two articles grabbed my attention, one in each paper, both hagiographies of the same local poet, Joe Gouveia, who’d just died of cancer at the age of 49.  

Three months prior, I’d sketched a cartoon on Gouveia, “The Poets—If Not Censors, Then in Collusion with Censors,” and posted it on The American Dissident website (see http://wwwtheamericandissidentorg.blogspot.com/2014/02/joe-gouveia.html).

I’d also written a poem, inspired by his apathy and posted it (see http://wwwtheamericandissidentorg.blogspot.com/2014/03/joe-gouveia.html).

After reading through both hagiographies, for a brief moment, I felt a tad badly, but then thought, hell, Gouveia had never mentioned he had terminal cancer.  Besides, such obit hagiographies were not for the dead, but for the living.  Gouveia would never get to read this essay, so it could not possibly hurt him.  But I’d send it on to the deaf ears of his hagiographers and friend John Bonanni, another local poet, editor of Cape Cod Poetry Review, who also would keep my poetry and criticism out of the local, happy-face literary arena.  I’d even sketched a cartoon on him and with the same title, “The Poets—If Not Censors, Then in Collusion with Censors” (see http://wwwtheamericandissidentorg.blogspot.com/2014/01/john-bonanni.html). Moreover, I immediately thought how poetry did not need more hagiography, but rather more hard-core criticism and substance.  Unsurprisingly, neither of the two hagiographies presented a line of wisdom from the guy, who was supposed to be so wonderful now that he was dead. 

Gouveia had a website like most other poets and, like just about all of them, it served to promote self, not ideas or principles, just self.  He was poetry curator of the Cultural Center of Cape Cod.  Curator meant warden or supervisor.  So, he had definitely been doing his job by keeping my poetry out of his Cultural Center.  Clearly, to have received such positive post-mortem reviews, Gouveia had never criticized the editors of both newspapers.  And those editors should certainly have been criticized for not publishing all news-worthy stories and alternate viewpoints.  Both would never publish this essay. 

Gouveia wrote a poetry column for the Barnstable Patriot, in which, unsurprisingly, he never criticized the intrinsically corrupt local cultural-council apparatchiks, censoring library marms, town council hacks, and apathetic, if not pathetic, college instructors.  Indeed, he was poet-in-residence at the local Cape Cod Community College.  A poet-in-residence inevitably resides on the side of censorship and speech-restricting codes, requisites of the established order, which pays for the poet’s residence or at least provides the poet with an audience.  Co-opted poets know precisely in their hearts what they should not write and shamefully abide by that taboo, requisite for climbing the established-order literary ladder. 

Gouveia was a former student of community-college instructor Dan McCullough, columnist at the Cape Cod Times, who penned one of the hagiographies, noting Gouveia “was a poet.  A good one, even at that age.”  Far too many college professors and instructors employed the term “good” (or “brilliant”) as if somehow it were objective.  For them, no proof of the assertion was needed at all, as if somehow they’d been ordained by the Greek god Hermes, as high and mighty judges of “good” and not “good.”  “He also continued to write poetry at a prolific pace,” noted McCullough, reflecting the all too common notion in poetry that quantity of output somehow indicated “good” or “brilliant”, yet quantity of output was really nothing more than a euphemism for motor-mouth.

The problem with the McCulloughs and Gouveias was that they didn’t give a damn when poets like me dared speak out openly and ended up banned for life and/or ostracized for doing so.  Their positions depended on that apathy.  Sadly, they held those positions far higher than truth and the courage to speak it.  McCullough’s own community college had called the police on me one day when I was peacefully demonstrating for, of all things, the anniversary of the Bill of Rights (see http://www.globalfreepress.org/sections/free-speech/3573-incident-at-wilkens-library-on-the-224th-anniversary-of-the-bill-of-rights). Did McCullough give a damn?  Of course not! 

Both newspapers refused to report on that incident and on the permanent banning of me and my poetry by Sturgis Library.  Both McCullough and Gouveia did not give a damn when I’d informed them about the incidents, which was why I’d sketched a cartoon on the latter, who’d boasted on his website of being the Massachusetts Poet-of-the-Year and “poetry radio personality.”  Sadly, “poet-of-the-year” almost always means innocuous to the established order. 

Moreover, I’d stumbled upon an article by Gouveia, while researching for the cartoon on his friend Bonnani.  In it, Gouveia stated “if poetry is anything it is inclusive, and it is that spirit of inclusivity that makes the Cape poetry scene unique.”  Of course, that was a load of PC-exclusionary, backslapping horseshit.  The only time poetry was “inclusive” on the Cape or anywhere else was when it excluded poets like me and other hard-core dissidents.  Of course, that didn’t make sense.  But for established-order poets somehow it did.  So, I contacted Gouveia, mentioned the banning and asked if he’d write director Lucy Loomis a letter expressing his outrage at the banning of a local poet.  Of course, he wouldn’t do that.  After all, Loomis and he were both card-carrying members of the local established order.  He wrote another line of horseshit, “I've been seen as a controversial poet over the years.”  Thus, I created the cartoon, sent it to him, and posted it on line.  He never did respond, though apparently was quite sick, so I certainly couldn’t blame him for not doing so.   But the others I’d informed, who were not sick, did not respond either.   Most often silence is the response to such criticism.  Now and then, ad hominem is the response.  Very rarely do those who are criticized respond with cogent counter argument.  That has been my experience in both academe and the literary milieu.  Sorry, but I am one poet who is not weeping…

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