Chris Vitiello | Indy Week

Chris Vitiello 
Member since Aug 20, 2010

Chris Vitiello

Chris Vitiello lives in Durham and writes for INDY Week on art, music and hockey.

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Re: “The show must not go on: Does The ArtsCenter have a cancellation problem?

I appreciate both of these comments. I think it's important to acknowledge that Brad Porter is trying to build a new audience for a kind of music that has fallen out of The ArtsCenter's wheelhouse in recent years. To me, the story here is that the venue's mixture of promotional strategy and will is nowhere near strong enough. With a little work, enough advance tickets sell for this show to happen (if 10 tickets is indeed the lower threshold); with really visionary work and exceptional community partnerships (and probably some grantwriting too), the audience they say they seek begins to form. Certainly the RighteousGIRLS make exceptional, entertaining music that a lot of people around the Triangle would enjoy. But those people have a lot of entertainment options today. Targeted marketing is the only way that The ArtsCenter is going to get people to Wednesday night jazz acts. Is that work that they're willing to do? We will see.

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by Chris Vitiello on 08/20/2015 at 5:24 PM

Re: “The Hayti mural and the Durham divide

Let's get a public meeting together to talk about a mural restoration plan here.

2 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Chris Vitiello on 09/11/2014 at 6:28 AM

Re: “Greta Garbo's extreme close-up, some fond farewells and an erased mural

Emily Weinstein actually does have a legal leg to stand on, as the federal VARA legislation has been called upon by numerous mural artists whose work has been destroyed under similar circumstances. And I don't particularly blame her for not wanting to participate in a meeting called by the group that destroyed her work without bothering to get in touch with her. She told me that she would rather spend her time making new work than spend time helping Caktus heal their public image. She's hurt -- her life's work is gone. And Caktus has shown alacrity by... putting a post on their blog. Time is ticking off and other than that they've done zilch, which makes me wonder how sincere the remorse and shame really is. I don't really understand why a public meeting would take time to put together, and I wonder if they're waiting until enough time passes that they feel safe enough to not call a meeting at all. I hope they get their act together very soon. And in my opinion, this is a cultural disaster for Durham. I've spent a lot of time with the mural with my kids over the years. Our family shed tears when we saw Caktus' gray wall, and I know plenty of others who can say the same. It might not be a disaster for everyone, of course. Different parts of a city become different parts of our lives. For instance, if the Durham Bulls moved away I wouldn't care at all -- the team isn't important to me. But I know friends next door who would mourn that for the rest of their lives. And I care about my friends and neighbors, so I would sympathize. I hope that you, badpoetry, could find a way to sympathize too.

4 likes, 4 dislikes
Posted by Chris Vitiello on 08/13/2014 at 5:59 PM

Re: “What does a state poet laureate do—and why does it matter?

Joseph Bathanti sent the following clarification regarding the founding of the Veterans Writing Collective:

"I cannot at all take credit for founding the Veterans Writing Collective in Fayetteville. I was merely at the initial meeting, with a number of key players, in Fayetteville at Methodist University. Out of that meeting, the Collective was later formed and all the credit goes to poet and Professor Robin Greene, Paul Stroebel and a number of other hard-working folks at Methodist and in Fayetteville who have brilliantly sustained and nurtured it."

15 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Chris Vitiello on 08/06/2014 at 7:58 AM

Re: “Opinion: McCrory’s mean joke, a poet laureate who’s barely a poet

Go for it, Sarah! Critical discourse.

3 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by Chris Vitiello on 07/18/2014 at 10:06 AM

Re: “Opinion: McCrory’s mean joke, a poet laureate who’s barely a poet

I'd like to address a few of Thursday's comments here, one of which includes a correction to my editorial.

I stated that proceeds from sales of Macon's book Sleeping Rough went to the Garden of Eatin' at Durham Central Park. This is incorrect. Proceeds from book sales go to the Garden of Eaten' at Piney Grove Baptist Church in Fuquay Varina, where Macon is co-project director. It turns out there are a good number of community gardens with such a name. I regret this factual error on my part, especially since it understated her involvement in the garden's operation, and I'd like to thank the person who pointed my error out to me (who asked to remain anonymous).
Here is a link to the church's page on this garden:…

Several commenters have objected to my critique of Macon's poem in my editorial, characterizing it as inappropriate, condescending and mean. I think you have to understand that this is the kind of work that mature, committed poets do -- we critique the work of others and we seek out critical feedback on our own work. It's important to possess critical tools as an artist in order to understand your field, as well as to be able to churn that understanding back into the improvement of your own work. When you go to grad school, or find a really active writing community, you work on each other's poems in this way. You break them down and point out where they work and don't work. You judge them and discuss them. This isn't your elementary school kid's soccer game, where you don't keep score and everyone is a winner just for playing and let's get ice cream after the game. Being supportive, among mature, committed poets, IS being critical and honest about others' work in this way. We crave an honest critique above all else. We take out tens of thousands of dollars in student loans for it. Kind of the worst thing you can tell a poet is "yeah, I liked it a lot" and then head to the bar. How is that useful? Tear our work apart, please, so we can know more, so we can be better. We know it isn't personal; it's professional. If you disagree with my interpretation of Macon's poem, show me in the poem why you do. That's fruitful critical discussion, yo.

One of the core angles of this story was that Macon was very underqualified. I felt that taking a critical look at one of her actual poems, rather than merely listing number of books and degrees and so forth, was a thorough and respectful way of talking about that. A poet laureate should be a stellar poet. Macon's work isn't there. And I wanted to unpack that in my editorial. In this, I treated her like a poet, not a mere resume.

I did not deal with another part of the "underqualified" angle at all. Other writers have stated that Macon exaggerated or overstated her credentials -- that her books had won Pushcart Prizes (something that Tom Davis, publisher at Old Mountain Press, clarifies in the comments to this article -- thank you, Tom), and that she claimed to have been a Gilbert-Chappell Distinguished Poet when in fact she was a student of a poet with that title. I could not substantiate these claims and chose not to report them. These could have been willful overstatements on Macon's part; more likely they were oversights. A sentence written the wrong way rather than a falsified resume. I gave Macon the benefit of the doubt on it and received a little criticism for not having pushed on the matter.

14 likes, 16 dislikes
Posted by Chris Vitiello on 07/18/2014 at 7:07 AM

Re: “Opinion: McCrory’s mean joke, a poet laureate who’s barely a poet

Finally someone got a quote from Macon:…

"McCrory spokesman Rick Martinez said the governor has the prerogative to name the poet laureate on his own, and that's what he did. The governor's office didn't respond to questions about how he chose Macon, and Macon said she was in the dark as well.

"I really don't know, and I would love to know," said Macon, whose books are titled "Sleeping Rough" and "Shelf Life."

She said she has heard that some people are criticizing her selection, but she is trying to stay above the fray.

"I, more or less, would like to concentrate on the positive that I can do in this capacity," she said. "And I have a lot to offer. I've been writing poetry for a long time. I have a love of poetry.""

7 likes, 4 dislikes
Posted by Chris Vitiello on 07/16/2014 at 5:38 PM

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