Friday, May 7, 2021

Michelle T. Booney named president of Kavita Foundation

Former Commissioner of Cultural Affairs for the City of Chicago, Michelle T. Boone has been named president of the Poetry Foundation, amid intense resentment over the perceived lack of commitment to social by the Chicago-based organization, nearly a year after last year’s president resigned. Justice.

Boone, who was selected in a national search, brings a long haul on community engagement and service to several major Chicago institutions, including Navy Pier, where he is currently the Chief Program and Citizen Engagement Officer. As the Commissioner of Cultural Affairs under former Mayor Rahm Emanuel, he led the development of the city 2012 Cultural Master Plan, As well as organizing more than 2,000 events and special events including new Chicago architecture bi.

In a telephone interview, Boone said that one of his main goals at the Poetry Foundation would be to better connect with the diverse residents of Chicago, including those from far away. Modernist headquarters On the city’s upscale near the North Side.

“The work ahead is really going to be about change,” she said. “It’s about being better, more inclusive, and we’re here to serve in partnership and together with those people.”

Boone has been appointed during a period on the foundation, valued at around $ 300 million, making it one of the wealthiest literary organizations in the country. Last spring, when the epidemic hit, some were criticized for As a failure to use their funds to help struggling poets and literary organizations.

Then, in June, Its president and the chairman of the board resigned After more than 1,800 people, including several dozen poets associated with the foundation, signed an open letter that wrote, Black Lives was seen as a concrete statement of Matter’s support, and called for assistance “with its vast Social justice and counter-terrorism efforts called on the foundation to “redistribute more resources”.

Week Later, Dawn Shares, editor of Poetry magazine, publishing the foundation, Resigned after 30-page experimental poem Much of what was seen as racist language and fantasy was criticized in several excerpts written by Michael Dickman with the vision of his mentally fallen grandmother. The poem was removed from the magazine’s website, and the magazine announced that – for the first time in its 108-year history – it would be Skipping Month of publication, as a part of “our organization with deep-seated white supremacy”.

Since then, the Foundation has hired three guest editors, who color all women, and are distributed $ 1.3 million in emergency grants For individual poets and literary organizations across the country. It has also promised to partner with black historians to “research in detail and document the Black Poets of Poetry Foundation and Poetry magazine in broad detail.”

In interviews this week, Boone called previous complaints about insufficient allocation of resources “a legitimate hold”, but said she was impressed by the foundation’s efforts to respond to criticism.

He said, “Outrage represents a passion for people’s base, wishing it could be better and better.” “Because they cared, I think it presents an opportunity.”

The Poetry Foundation was created in 2003, after philanthropist Ruth Lilly, great-grandmother of pharmaceutical magnate Eli Lilly, made a surprise Gift over $ 100 million Poetry magazine. A small but respected magazine with a staff of four, known for its early embrace of modernity, immediately turned into a major cultural player. However, before last year’s outrage, it was Faced criticism Spending on priorities and what some saw as an insular, clubby culture detached from the city’s poetic scene Slam poetry driven by youth.

Today, the Foundation has more than three dozen employees, and an annual operating budget of $ 11 million that supports an array of awards, fellowships and public programs. Chicago Poetry Block Party, An annual community celebration established in 2016. (The foundation’s in-person programming has been halted during the pandemic.)

Boone said that his own relationship with poetry was shaped by growing up in Chicago in the 1970s Black arts movement, When the work of Chicago poets such as Guadolin Brooks and Oscar Brown Jr. was on the school curriculum and on the air.

“The poem was too big back then,” she said “not a girl my age who did not recite Nikki Giovanni’s ‘ago tripping’ in an assembly.”

“Poetry for me is associated with music, lyrics, spoken word,” she said. “It’s always been there.”

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