Monday, April 18, 2016

POET A.D. Winans withdraws his name from consideration to be San Francisco Poet Laureate

A.D. Winans

To San Francisco Poet Laureate Committee:
It’s my understanding that several people have nominated me for the position of San Francisco Poet Laureate. I’m writing to withdraw my name from consideration. I will try to keep my reasons brief.
In the old days the Poet Laureate served at the pleasure of the King’s Court.
Today the position falls under the office of the Mayor.
I was born in San Francisco and except for a brief stint in the military have lived here my entire life.
I have watched with alarm the gentrification of my once proud city and the rising economic disparity. The Silicone Valley technology explosion has caused real estate to skyrocket and people forced to leave the city to seek out affordable housing. Normal income families can no longer afford a home and one-bedroom apartments are going for $4.500 a month or more. If I were not fortunate enough to be under rent control, I could not live in the city of my birth.
The mayor seems comfortable with the Silicone Valley “techie” revolution that has benefited the well off at the expense of the working class and poor. Eviction rates continue to rise and small neighborhood businesses forced to close down when their lease expires and rent is increased two or three fold.
All my life (as expressed in my poetry) I have spent supporting the cause of the ordinary working class man and woman and those who have fallen through the cracks of the system.
It’s indefensible for a city like San Francisco to have the large homeless population it has, many of them elderly and veterans. The administration has been heartless to send the police out to slash homeless people’s tents and take their meager belongings under the dark of night.

I would find it hypocritical of me to accept any position under the current administration.
The second reason I can’t accept the position of Poet Laureate is the requirement the Laureate organize an event at the annual “Lit Quake.” Festival. Lit Quake from its inception has been a self-serving organization that panders to in-group favorites. In an effort to look like it is more representative of the poetry community at large, it encourages small venues to organize and put on events at bars and such under the umbrella of Lit Quake, thus taking credit for events they provide little or no support too.
The third reason is I am more a recluse than a public figure. I write and pretty much live in solitude. I do not wish the label of Poet Laureate to be a marker I will be remembered by. I want to be remembered for my word alone and not by any position I held.
I have never written or read for poets, but for people who do not generally read poetry, those who need it the most. Pomp and ceremony are not markers of who I am.
I wish to thank those who nominated me for Poet Laureate, as I know they did so with the best and most honorable intentions.
A. D. Winans

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