PoBiz markets fell 500 points just after opening yesterday on news of a recent interview with popular poet CA “Comandante” Radcon. Radcon, in the newly launched and awesomely titled online magazine, Joseph Stalin Arts Weekly, reiterated his conviction, which he’d already expressed months back at the blog of the now defunct “Mongrel Coalition,” (an anti-racist/ anti-imperialist project founded by a white scion of the Brazilian bourgeoisie who fooled a whole bunch of white and non-white comrades by posing as a POC conceptual poet) that he would never, ever, read Walt Whitman again, because Walt Whitman was a racist.

“Walt Whitman was a racist!” exclaimed CA “Comandante” Radcon to the Joseph Stalin interviewer. “He thought African-Americans were inferior to white people, and so I am never, ever, going to read Walt Whitman again. Because Walt Whitman was a racist.” Praising Radcon for his “courageous and unyielding leadership and example against poetic reaction of all kinds,” the Joseph Stalin interviewer pointed out that Whitman, not unlike his hero, Lincoln, didn’t have the best line on the Indian Wars, either.

Whitman, as even non-poets know, has long been celebrated as the bard of democracy and the common people. While his poetry is arguably anti-racist and militantly defends the democratic principle of equality, in recently published interviews Whitman gave shortly before his death to his admirer, Horace Traubel, he expressed racialist and social Darwinist attitudes on eugenics that were prevalent—even considered progressive—in the 19th century, even among anti-slavery proponents. The news shocked contemporary North American poets, not least those who have successfully purified themselves, through arduous ideological labor, of “toxic whiteness.”

“No poetry market wants one of its founders, especially one whose bronze statue is outside the trading-floor doors, to be accused of being politically incorrect,” said market analyst Stephanie Durt. “Image stability of canonical figures is key to investor confidence, and that’s a golden rule of Commercial Poetry Business. We haven’t seen such commotion since Gertrude Stein was revealed to be a stooge of the fascist Vichy regime.”

After making the accusation against Whitman, Radcon went on to answer a number of innocuous, softball questions about his writing habits, kisses on first dates, sex activity in bathrooms of poetry dive bars in Philadelphia, the AWP, and Donald Trump’s hair vs. Joseph Ceravolo’s hair.

When this reporter called Radcon this morning to follow up and ask if Walt Whitman’s entire poetry output was corrupted by mid-19th century racist comments largely made in private to admirers at a time when even white abolitionists were perfectly prejudiced, Radcon replied:

“I am just saying that racism is racism, fuck so-called history, and if you don’t believe that, then why don’t you move to Idaho, piggie?”

When asked (after being told this reporter actually lived in Idaho) if he now rejected the poetry of 95% of all the white poets of America and Britain who lived between 1892 and, say, 1965 (for they also, to one degree or another, harbored the deep racial and other biases of their time), he replied:

 “What poets? That’s just crazy Russian-disinformation! How do you know they were racist??? Sure, the New Critics were racist scum, so what, but no poet I like or hang out with is racist. Period!”

When asked, then, if he had ever read the great Marxist critic György Lukács on 19th century realist literature, and how the subjective, historically determined contradictions of its eminent authors are, very much, the engine of their literary greatness, he loudly laughed:

“Georgie who?! Ha, ha, ha!”

This reporter then quoted something Radcon himself had recently proclaimed in another interview, and asked Radcon if, in light of it, he would like to concede, as Whitman had long ago put it, and proudly, that he could indeed be quite contradictory:

It’s against every cell in my body to apologize for poems. We’re asked to apologize for too many things in this world as it is.  The trigger warning for me….is an apology. For me it is the permission of poetry that makes it useful. To police the language of a poet or the atmosphere a poet creates is to negate that usefulness.

Radcon at this point said nothing, but he could be heard breathing laboriously on the other end of the line.

This reporter then asked Radcon if his Moral Purity Rule applied to other situations than racist attitudes, such as genocide and state sponsored terrorism. For instance, was he aware that the Reagan Administration in the 1980s was complicit in flooding black communities in the US with a devastating plague of drugs in order to pay for the terror war of the Contras against Nicaragua that Congress refused to fund, and if so, what Radcon thought about the fact that one of his mentors and sponsors–Buffalo Poetix Rector and CEO of the Great Philadelphia Poetry Warehouse, Charles Beanstock–proudly held a lucrative Ivy League Professorship named after Donald T. Regan. Regan was Reagan’s Chief of Staff and a leading mastermind of the Central American genocide, under which tens of thousands of people–many of them indigenous–were murdered, tortured, and disappeared? Radcon hung up the phone.

Follow-up calls for clarification and expansion were not returned.

In other news, researchers at the Harvard University Mental Wellness Program (who had been working in the files of the Academy of American Poets), announced that Gertrude Stein was a racist and Vichy supporting fascist, that Louis Zukofsky was a misogynist creep, that Elizabeth Bishop tacitly backed the murder and torture of communist oppositionists in Brazil, that Wallace Stevens was a proud and vicious cracker, that George Oppen thought Stalin was swell, that Lorine Niedecker thought a “JEW” was responsible for the atom bomb, that William Carlos Williams made jokes the day after Hiroshima about the clueless “Japs,” that Jack Spicer was an anti-Semitic prick, that Robert Creeley nearly strangled his first wife, and that Allen Ginsberg was all for men having sex with underage boys. This is only a small selection of what Mental Wellness Harvard researchers discovered about “Modern poets,” and there is hardly space, here, to include the rest of the “non-politically correct,” in all their unsettling and human badness.

After three hours of being 500 points in the red, markets partially rebounded, to close only 275 points down, on news that four tenure-track Creative Writing positions for “Innovative Poets” were added to the AWP and MLA job listings for Fall, 2018.

–Dispatches