A couple days ago, at the arraignment hearing in Chicago for Stephanie Dunn, the poet and artist arrested at behest of Poetry Foundation a few weeks back for a performance-based protest at the PF Wine and Cheese Gala, an official representative of the Poetry Foundation called on the judge to send Dunn to Cook County Penitentiary until her trial nine days from now. The judge was about to do this (he said as much to the defendant), but a public defender who is otherwise unrelated to the case intervened and convinced the judge to let Dunn go until her trial date– on condition that a guilty plea be entered. The terrified Stephanie agreed.
Three days after Raul Zurita’s reading at the Poetry Foundation, where six or seven activists of the Croatoan Poetic Cell peacefully hung banners (one of them praising Zurita and his old activist group CADA) and passed out leaflets calling for the charges against Dunn to be dropped (the cops were also called by the PF on these poets–they scampered away), the Chicago Police Department carried out a raid during a musical event on the warehouse where most of the members of the Croatoan Poetic Cell live. Property was confiscated and three people detained. Minutes after the police left, a car parked outside, belonging to a friend of those involved, burst into flames. I state the bizarre sequence of these events without making any claim of connections between them, for I have no solid proof. But that is the anecdotal record.
A statement by members of the Croatoan Poetic Cell will be released in the next days, I understand. It is time for poets to stand publicly against this outrageous overreaction by the Poetry Foundation against young writers and artists guilty of nothing except peaceful, conceptual acts of poetic insurgency– of which there is, to be sure, a long and venerable tradition in our field.