Chat it Chew With Jim Hightower Purchase or renew a subscription to the Texas Observer and you could win lunch with Jim Hightower, legendary wit, raconteur, progressive philosopher, and the first radio talk show host fired by Mickey Mouse! The winner gets round-trip airfare to Austin and lunch at Threadgill’s World Headquarters with Jim Hightower, receives a signed copy of his most recent book, There,k Nothing in the Middle of the Road But Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos, and gets to watch the live broadcast of Hightower’s nationally syndicated radio show. So subscribe today! You’ll also save 56% off the cover price. I want to subscribe to the Texas Observer. Name Address City/State/Zip 1 year: $24 2 years: $48 3 years $72 New Subscription EIRenewal To be eligible, subscriptions must be received and paid in full by August 15, 1998. The Observer will provide round-trip airfare for one person from any Texas airport served by Southwest Airlines; hotel accommodations will not be provided. Valid only for full-priced subscriptions \(student-rate subscriptions three-year subscription; in the case of gift subscriptions, the recipient will be entered in the drawing unless the payor, in writing, requests otherwise. Please address all questions to the Texas Observer, . A poet’s business, I believe, is to tinker with the language and, therefore, with the way we think and feel. In this way John Bennett or Ezra Pound I can’t remember who said this “poets become the antennae of the culture.” It’s a radical occupation. Or should be. The poems selected for the Observer are not meant to challenge the reader or, God forbid, offend her. They are placed there, instead, as ornament, a sop to middle-class ideas of what culture is, something to hang on the wall, like my mother used to hang nice but mediocre watercolors on the wall. The paintings made my mother feel better. Which is what Nye’s article on her trip to Washington also does. She tells us about seeing so-and-so, talking to the First Lady about Chelsea, and asking the President for his autograph. She thereby loses a perfect opportunity to speak about poetry, its purpose in our society, and, likewise, the ex 2 pectations that we might have of our poets. Hayden Carruth, in declining his invitation to this same Millennium Evening, said in his public letter to the President: …it would seem the greatest hypocrisy for an honest American poet to be present on such an occasion at the seat of the power which has not only neglected but abused the interests of poets and their readers continually, to say nothing of many other administratively dispensable segments of the population. What does Naomi think about this comment? And why didn’t she report on his refusal to go to the White House? Bobby Byrd El Paso The Editors respond: I was aware of Hayden Carruth’s rhetorical boycott of the White House event. That poets, and artists in general, have long been marginalized by “seats of power” is hardly news in our culture, and to perpetuate that marginalizaton by holding oneself apart, essentially uninteresting. Sorry you missed the importance of poetry in my piece: I tried to include them, along with some good-humored \(in the spirit of the Naomi Shihab Nye catholic as to embrace every sort of writing. But within the admittedly small compass we grant her all told, some two dozen pages a year, Naomi Shihab Nye has assembled a,glittering anthology of attentive, articulate, wide-ranging, and lyrical poems. Amidst the political and social clamor that is the Observer, her pages are emotional and intellectual clearings, generous of both heart and Mind. We remain proud to call Naomi Shihab Nye the Observer’s poetry editor. M.K. CLEAN BILL OF HEALTH You’re doin’ better. Sincerely, Daniel Jackson M.D. Houston Write Dialogue The Texas Observer 307 W. 7th St. Austin, TX 78701 [email protected] JULY 31, 1998 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 3
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