An Open Letter to Jane Satterfield

By John "Birdman" Bryant


This is a revised version of an earlier essay sent to Ms Satterfield, who did not respond, and who now has another chance to do so if she wishes.

What I am about to say is not directed at you 'personally', altho it is certainly ABOUT you. Rather it is intended to use you as an illustration of the thesis that Gramsci's 'long march thru the institutions', which he prescribed as a modus operandi for leftists and other cultural subversives, has left a trail not just of Derridable deconstructed decimation, but of reticulated retrograde rottenness. Of course you will probably be surprised at this -- perhaps even shocked. If so, that is simply because you do not understand how you are being used by the Culture Destroyers to spread their rottenness. In particular, you will not understand that you have been elevated to the high post of Assistant Professor and showered with awards, gifts and fellowships not because you are a good poet, but rather exactly the opposite -- because you are a BAD one, and the purpose of your elevation is to deride the good, and therefore to destroy it, and in the process to obscure the difference between what is good and what is bad. More generally, it is part and parcel of the effort to destroy Western civilization by elevating and worshipping the bad so that people will reject this civilization, and thus -- a fortiori -- return to barbarism, in which condition they can be more easily ruled.

Now I have called you a bad poet, but this is not intended as an insult, but rather as an objectively-verifiable description. For consider the poem "Dedication" which was posted on the Internet magazine Blackbird, and which was presumably an example of your best work. Here are the first 5 lines:

The whole town stands covered in ice.

The trees, the walls, the snow

Are as though under glass.

As I stepped down into the cellar, the lantern

Started to smoke.

The basic problem with this poem, so-called, is that it has nothing to distinguish it from prose save the fact that you have broken off the lines before reaching the right margin. In contrast to your piece of prose, a line of genuine poetry is broken off for a reason, usually either that it rimes with another line or -- in the case of unrimed poetry -- that it completes a rhythm pattern. The difference between prose and poetry is that there is what I have called in my book Systems Theory and Scientific Philosophy a pattern of buildup-release: A buildup of tension by the creation of a rhythm and/or rime scheme, and then a release of that tension when the scheme is completed. More particularly, the poet creates a pattern, and by so doing creates an expectation that future lines will fall into that pattern. This, however, does not occur with the lines above: There is no pattern created which is also repeated -- indeed, there is no discernable pattern at all. Even worse, the lines do not even read smoothly. This we can demonstrate by outlining the patterns of emphasis, where the plus symbol (+) stands for a syllable that receives emphasis, and the underline (_) for a syllable that does not. Using these symbols, the rhythm 'pattern' of your poem may be depicted as


This is not a pattern. It is the rhythm pattern of a piece of prose shaped like a poem. Or as a wit might say, "As poetry, it is passable prose."

Now it should be clear from the above discussion that I am no traditionalist who is objecting to your so-called poem because of the lack of a rime scheme, altho I do rather like rime. In particular, I am not one who agrees with the wit who said that blank verse is like playing tennis with the net down. On the contrary, blank verse can be a powerful medium, as has been shown by Walt Whitman, Robert Frost, Carl Sandburg and numerous others. But if blank verse -- which your poem might be labeled -- is verse with some of the rules relaxed, that does not mean it HAS no rules. To the contrary, besides the need for a repeating pattern, it must read smoothly (a repeating pattern is often sufficient for this), and it must make sense. Besides having no repeating pattern, your so-called poem is about as clunky as a '57 Chevy with a broken rear axle, and it's up for grabs as to how much sense it makes.

So then, let us ask, Is all this really of any consequence? In the narrow sense, of course, it is nothing -- just another stupid poet with another stupid poem. But in the larger context -- of a poet showered with awards, holding a professorship, etc -- it is a knife in the heart of poetry. It says to others: Take any prose, break it up wherever you wish so it 'looks like' a poem, and Viola de Gamba! Yew are a Certyfied Poett!

Now what I am saying does not take a rocket scientist to understand. It is the abecedaria of poetry. It is why we raise our kids on nursery rimes -- even if kids can't understand the subtleties of the story (and some of them are pretty subtle), they can understand the rime and rhythm. But you -- the cultural subversive, even if you don't understand your role -- don't just play tennis with the net down, but with your PANTS down, and the resulting view of verbal diarrhea is not pretty, even if you should happen to be callipygian.

I stated above that the purpose you are fulfilling is to provide an object whereby the incompetent may be elevated, thereby bringing competence, and ultimately Western civilization, into disrepute. While this may seem far- fetched, we can see the same theme repeated again and again in what today passes for the 'civilized world'. We see textbooks with errors so egregious that they become the basis of national ridicule; we see students in our publik skoolz so dumbed down that they can't even find their own country on a map; we see 'music' which is nothing but a combination of heavy rhythm and the grunts of Africoid apes; we see 'art' that a defecating Chimp or a naked soda girl is well-prepared to do; we see barely-literate minorities elevated to high positions via 'affirmative action'; we see open borders in which hordes of busboys and lawnmower men are effectively welcomed to displace competent white men in their own country.

You are set for life. Because of your incompetence and your gender, you have been elevated into a position where you will work willingly for the Culture Destroyers, not having a clue as to what you are really doing. Both your ego and your pocketbook are satisfied, and that means that you not only have a motivation to turn a blind eye to your real purpose, but will fight like a screeching piloerected cornered feline banshee against anyone who suggests that you are selling the rope by which the Culture Destroyers will hang Western civilization, and ultimately you.

Please do not misunderstand me: My purpose has not been to hurt you, but simply to tell the truth, and in doing so, to plant the seeds of doubt in your mind and the mind of anyone else who will listen. But the truth often hurts, as it must if we are to be spurred to act upon it. My point is that if the King has no clothes, then someone needs to tell him about it, and -- even more importantly -- they need to break the silence which accompanies his nakedness. You are only one person, but the lesson of your case is universal. For this reason, I expect to post this letter on my website permanently. If you would care to answer me, I will also post your response, but be aware that I will probably respond.

In closing, if you should care to read some of my poetry, you will find a sampling on my website,


Jane Satterfield bio:

Blackbird profile:

Email Jane Satterfield:



Please contribute today - buy our books - and spread the word to all your friends!

* * * Back to the Home Page of John "Birdman" Bryant, the World's Most Controversial Author * * *