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“This is a Poem, Not an Act of Terrorism”: LSU Student Arrested for Imitating a Johannes Goransson Poem

By Harriet Staff

James Bellard, a student in Lara Glenum’s poetry class at LSU, was arrested for writing an imitation of a Johannes Goransson poem. The imitation, an assignment from the class, was deemed a “disturbing letter” by the authorities, who were alerted to it when it rolled out of the library printer Bellard grew too impatient to wait on. In addition to the poem, Bellard was also wearing a Leprechaun hat, “to celebrate the holiday” (assumed: St. Patrick’s Day). As Bellard states:

To celebrate the holiday, I was wearing a green leprechaun top hat. To add to the effect, I had my side-burns poking out like Wolverine. I had even been going to buy spray paint to make my hair green, but I was pressing the clock and didn’t have time to make the stop.

As Bellard was finishing up his day of classes, he was finally apprehended:

I was in Tureaud hall walking towards my last class of the day, when a man walked up behind me and said in a voice like my high-school teacher that had always stood by the school entrance and inspected everyone’s uniforms, “Excuse me sir!” I turned around to see what he wanted (faintly annoyed by the association), then I saw the badge clipped to his belt. “Put your hands on the wall!” He commanded.

“There’s the leprechaun.” Another officer said smugly as he walked up with a third. “Good eye!”

The rest of Bellard’s (often funny) account, as well as the poem itself, can be found here.

Goransson, the imitated, who felt this whole ordeal “meant art was a crime”, has a new book available from Tarpaulin Sky Press.


Posted in Poetry News on Tuesday, May 24th, 2011 by Harriet Staff.