I have never made it a secret either that my loyalty to Kim Bridgford is 100% solid, or that this colors my motives in many of the things that I write and do. I happen to think she’s an amazing human being, and I am awed by the fact that she managed to put together the Poetry by the Sea Conference in under eight months, providing our community with a place to assemble after West Chester University abruptly moved Kim out of the Directorship, closed the Poetry Center, and cancelled the conference.
West Chester University has decided it wants to run the conference again in 2016, and this vast, corrupt institution has money to throw at the problem of making it happen. It sounds as if the scholarships will be plentiful, and panelists and chairs are invited to apply. They are counting on the fact that members of our community have short memories and are naturally forgiving people, inclined to give second chances.
Let me make something very clear: there has been NO resolution to what happened last September. The situation has not changed a whit, in fact. There is still legal action pending between Kim and WCU, which means she can still say nothing about what happened. There are still well-founded rumors of financial mismanagement at the Poetry Center, which is still the most credible reason for the sudden action. Remember: you can’t audit a body that no longer exists. Remember: Kim did nothing wrong and WCU mistreated her shamelessly. That still happened.
Make no mistake: if you allow WCU to buy back the conference with all this still hanging over its head, you are demonstrating the exact opposite of loyalty to Kim Bridgford, even if you believe you are only doing it out of loyalty to new part-time Artistic Director, Sam Gwynn. (Side note: In my opinion Sam is just a future victim of West Chester University and is not to blame for his role in this drama, but please consider the ramifications of the fact that his new part-time position has no authority to call for any kind of financial review.)
And now it’s up to you.