Not With a Bang, But a Whimper

After two years, Hugo House needs a new executive director. Again.


Paul -- Just to clarify: You asked me about the format of the upcoming Hugo Literary Series, and whether a new E.D. would read his or her own work beforehand. I said that Lyall had his own style, and I would expect a new E.D. will have his or her own style. Your placement of the quote suggests I was commenting on Lyall's style -- which I wasn't.

Thanks. Matt Carvalho
Excellent summary of what Hugo House became under Bush (versus under Frances McCue, who is teaching in Morocco right now) by Matt Briggs. Though what is "fuzzy" about social justice, the Books to Prisoners program (ran by Gary Greaves, and a program that still might be saved by the HH Board), and lively and more diverse readings (though, like open mics, not always "genius-level" writing)?

Phoebe Bosche
Raven Chronicles
Books To Prisoners, a worthy project in its own right, has never directly been affiliated with Richard Hugo House. The Jon Nelson Prison program brought over 90 authors to the Monroe State Prison in 11 years, including Matt Briggs to discuss their work and the craft of writing with a group of inmates once a month.
Floating Bridge Press would like to thank Joan Rabinowitz, Executive Director of Jack Straw Productions, for helping us find a new space when our Richard Hugo House digs (about 30 square feet in a shared office) went poof. We are very grateful, Joan!
Social justice is coated in hair. I preferred the old Hugo House with the green, fuzzy logo instead of the current one with the MS Word Art Logo.

I participated in the Jon Nelson Program and would do so again if asked. I'd hand our circulars for the program or whatever was necessary. I think it is a necessary program, civil, and I'm glad it exists.

I find Matt Carvalho's expectations of an Executive Director curiously corporate. The word expectations summons to mind bullet lists of action items, road maps, and gant charts. (Although I like a good flowchart as much the next person.) Does he know what Seattle's expectations are of Hugo House? This is perhaps judged in the dollars and cents as these things are required to be of money raised, and money spent. If grants are good, expectations are met. I'm simplifying, but I doubt the board is measuring the number of sonnets being written or the number of zines being produced at Hugo House. In the last two years, I haven't been aware of any communication of expectations.

One of the incomplete aspects of Frances McCue's tenure at Hugo House (but one those things that seemed really exciting to me) is that she often seemed to want to hear what Seattle (or whatever/whoever would provide noise) expected from Hugo House. One of the aspects of fuzziness about the institution is that the house seemed to want to retain its lack of definition, its openness to accident, and expectations from anyone who cared to take part in ownership of the house. Maybe that is a Utopian idea. And doing stuff with Hugo House could be painfully circuitous, annoyingly communal, glacial. Many things came to complete dead ends. Often, while working there I was aware that it is communities that stone people to death.

Frances wrote about her efforts a while ago in what I think remains a hopeful idea for what an institution (and what Hugo House) could have been:
"Making Things and Making Things Better," published in the Community Arts Network.

I don't Frances McCue very well. But somewhere along the line in 2004 she would say after some open community forum or another, "What do writers really want?" She had gone from just listening to actually trying to find an answer it seemed. I think writers just want to be heard, really. They want someone to read their work. There are some paradoxical forces at work in this equation. More people want to write books, for instance, than read books. There are certainly more people writing blogs than reading blogs.

I'm not sure if their really is or should be an answer to the question "What do writers really want?" Or maybe it is a fuzzy answer. Maybe a Writing Resource Center should manufacture listening and comprehension? But, even this seems dangerous and to risk what is an essential aspect of the pliability or plasticity of a responsive organization. Once you get, an answer to "what do people want?" you are in business. You can set up shop, production, selling, marketing, cutting costs, and making some real money.

And then, the expectation from a board, I suppose, is to establish metrics around production or money raised. How good are ticket sales? Are they increasing? Are we reducing expenses? What is an acceptable loss?

I don't believe corporate logic applies to every institution. There are civic structures, such as libraries that cannot be profitable and in fact cannot be judged by an acceptable loss. Hugo House could have been a reverse library. I know that the community that showed up to help make Hugo House happen in the late 1990s and early 2000s had expectations of the place, and that the last two years have been a radical lowering of those expectations and collapse of their investments.
What a funny guy that Matt Briggs is.

"(Although I like a good flowchart as much the next person.)"
Funny Stuff!

And later:
"Many things came to complete dead ends. Often, while working there I was aware that it is communities that stone people to death."

That kind of dark, sickly funny, and laugh-out-loud humour can be found in his books.

Hey, Hugo House Board: why don't you save all that money you would spend on a National Search for a new "E.O." or "CEO" (why are present HH Board Members talking like robots?), and just hire Matt Briggs?

First, I have no idea what was happening behind the scenes at HH. I know Lyall, Brian, Matt, and Gary personally and submit that each of them was/is involved with HH because he's passionate about books and is willing to work his ass off for piddly financial reward. That goes for the rest of the staff and board, too. Not a malicious one in the bunch. I hope everyone ends up feeling better after the dust settles.

Briggs, as much as I think you're a cool guy, your sniffing about "curiously corporate" expectations strikes me as curiously naive. I don't know about you, but when it comes to taking care of finances, keeping lights on, and being able to offer honoraria that don't make a mockery out of the joint, I want a fuckin' Excel spreadsheet wizard on my team.

As for what the community wants, can you really say with a straight face that everyone involved at Hugo House hasn't had an open-ears policy? And can you seriously be making the case that a Board of Directors be responsible for tabulating sonnets? Really?

You say "I don't believe corporate logic applies to every institution" and use by way of example a library. You're right, Matt. Libraries are supported by taxes, which the government compels us to pay. Hugo House, a nonprofit organization, depends on people giving it money out of the kindness of their hearts so that they can continue providing writing camps to teenagers and a space where novelists can work.

As for what people want, Matt, I can only speak for myself. You apparently speak for a larger community, a mourning coalition of folks who've had their expectations dashed. I'll tell you what I want. I want a place that hosts readings and events with talented writers from around the world. I want a place that offers classes on a wildly diverse array of subjects. I want a place that provides kids with opportunities to explore writing and literature. Do I expect everything that Hugo House offers to be my cup of tea? Hell no. I even expect to think that some of it sucks. Under Lyall Bush, HH took some risks, had some big wins, a few misses, but overall became an organization devoted to stripping pretense from the writing process and promoting the creation of new work.

By the way, can you point me in the direction of the source for your assertion that "More people want to write books, for instance, than read books." Huh. Interesting.

You say, "I'm not sure if their really is or should be an answer to the question "What do writers really want?" Or maybe it is a fuzzy answer."

No, it is neither a fuzzy question nor a fuzzy answer. I'd argue that your whole spiel is fuzzy, Matt. Give us some concrete examples of *exactly* what it is you'd like Hugo House to do. Share with us your proposals for workshops, events, community outreach programs. I wonder if the real reason for your post is that you enjoy the sound of your own complaining.

--Ryan Boudinot
Wow, Matt. Thanks for your lengthy diatribe. I get the sense that you have some kind of personal issue with Hugo House, but it doesn't sound like you really know anything about what's happening there, I fail to see how your post is relevant to this article.

And, obviously "Pheobe Bosche" is a friend of yours. God save Hugo House should their Board heed her reccomendation.
Dear Jessica... do we need a purrfect answer to every commentary... or just a timely step down into Supreme Court Law and Legislation?
Jessica H, that’s right my view is historical and personal. My issue is personal or it wouldn't be my issue. Why is it that any degree of passion or interest is dismissed as "a personal issue?" In fact I have an a vendetta against what are generally called the cold, hard realities of the business world. I am curiously naïve.

Why can’t a writing center keep metrics on sonnets? It seems a better use for Excel than tracking donation dollars.

My view is relevant to the article because I was trying to clarify what I meant by “fuzzy” in the comments here – and to say (again) – the Books for Prisoners is a great program. But I've made it even fuzzier. Sorry.

Ryan, I also liked the way Paul Constant used "sniffing" as a subtle jib in the article.

I would like Hugo House to be a network, and provide organizational support to writers who are interested in writing. I would like Hugo House to provide Excel wizardry to people who can only use Word. I would like Hugo House to enable the productive capacities of the community rather than to offer workshops, events, and community outreach programs. Workshops, events, and community outreach programs limit the possibilities of Hugo House and have always conflicted with what I values as the central ethos of the place : to support writers doing essential work. (A clearly fuzzy mission statement that was changed around the time Lyall Bush first started working there.)

The way this would work:
A writer or lit events person wants to do something.
They go to Hugo House.
Hugo House says we can help you, yes you can do it, or no can’t help you, but yes you can do it, here’s how.

I am not enthused by the teaching of Creative Writing (as craft like wood carving) in this country. I'm not sure if these programs (as a graduate of one and participant in the racket myself) do anyone any good. I would say those aspects of Hugo House have always conflicted with its essential mission and muddied the waters.

81 percent of American adults says they would like to write a book one day. (1) Yet, only 45 percent of American have read a novel or collection of short stories in the last year. (2)


I do not believe that Hugo House’s board of directors or Lyall Bush had an “open-ears policy.” Open whatever strikes me as echoes the alarming corporate phrase “open door policy” where managers will ‘openly’ listen the grievances of employees. Usually such a policy signifies the opposite, kind of like the phrase of some struggling parents, “I take care of my kids.”

Ryan, I cannot take this sentence, “I wonder if the real reason for your post is that you enjoy the sound of your own complaining,” in any other way except to mean “shut up,” and I’m not about to shut up and I hope no one else does either.
Strange. Matt's comments were completely sane, quietly reasoned, funny, made by someone personally involved with Hugo House from the beginning. Then he is stomped on by two folks who try to make it sound like he is settling a personal score. Did not Jessica read his words? In English? Me: A friend? I am someone who agrees with his summary of the changes HH has gone through, having myself been a volunteer there for 10 years (and a tenant). Yes, we do know what is going on there, Jessica. Really. It is not a diatribe, but an accessment of what could have been different and different visions for the future. Of course it is only Matt's opinion. Are you not open to folks voicing their opinions? Well, if McCain wins, you will have the administration you obviously agree with.You should inform yourself in the future. Read more?
Briggs--By all means, keep talking. I had no intention of telling you to shut up. Not what I meant in the slightest. My apologies if it came off that way.

I'd counter that Hugo House does allow the kind of interaction you envision, where writers can propose new programs and events. Was there an instance where you proposed something that was shot down? This reminds me of conversations I have about people who get frustrated by how their work isn't getting accepted in literary journals. My first bit of advice for them is to start their own journal, and very soon they will see how many pieces of writing--good ones--they have to turn down. HH has always struck me as an egalitarian place, albeit one with limited resources. In order to remain in existence, they have to say no to a lot of worthy ideas--and even more unworthy ones--simply to stay afloat. They have to keep the big picture in mind, which means they have to be strategic about what they agree to do. This means leaving certain good ideas on the cutting room floor.

As for your views on teaching creative writing, it being a "racket," etc, I couldn't disagree with you more. Writing classes and workshops were at times the only things that made my education bearable, and now I'm delighted to be teaching in an MFA program. You have your impression about writing education, I have mine. But I will say, why keep teaching if you think it's such a sham?

It's hard to take your statistical argument seriously, because you quote two separate sources for your data. One is an unnamed "recent survey" quoted in the New York Times, the other is a survey funded by the NEA. Without knowing the sample sizes or methodology of these surveys, it's tenuous at best to draw the conclusion that more people want to write books than read them.

As for the receptivity of Lyall and the rest of the Hugo House administration, I can only support my argument by saying that I've been dropping by the place off and on for the last year, and every one of those folks seems to have five minutes to spare for me. I was batting around ideas for a new program with Lyall just a few weeks ago, in fact.

I really hope that you find some resolution over what's eating you about HH. Or start your own organization that can provide the resources you think the literary community of Seattle needs. Let me know if you do. I'd be happy to make a donation.

Ryan Boudinot
I'm going to miss Lyall Bush. He was the best thing that ever happened to HH, and I won't be sending my donation check this year. This all seems very creepy to me. No explanation? WHY did Lyall Bush leave? Maybe HH will carry on, but not with the same flare and excitement that it has had the last 2 years. Oh, and by the way, I often found Lyall's readings MORE entertaining than the featured authors. He was wit. He was charm. He was crazy intelligent. Everything a place like HH would seem to want from their Executive Director. So what gives? I suspect maybe the president of the board of directors if made to tell the truth would say that this had NOTHING to do with his performance as acting director, but is maybe of a more personal nature. Hmmm? So what is it Mr Carvalho? What have YOU got against Lyall Bush, really. And don't start blathering or dancing around what we the people of Hugo House really want to know. And Mr Briggs, please don't shut up. People need and want to know the real story.

I concede that my sources -- Jason Epstein writing for the New York Times and the National Endowment For the Arts -- are probably flawed due to the vagaries of low-paid fact checkers and overworked analysts. We've all been there.

The details of our exchange have become too complex to deal with in the confines of a Web forum.

It has come down to this. You and me. The future of the Seattle writing community clearly, certainly, depends on us and our ideas about outreach programs at Richard Hugo House.

I concede, too, that perhaps a business minded approach is appropriate considering we are talking about an arts organization with a budget and employees and things.

In this spirit, I suggest we resolve our difference in the time honored traditional of all business minded people: dueling PowerPoint presentations outlining the potential futures of Richard Hugo House. In the yawning vacuum of Lyall Bush's mysterious departure, sense must be made, preferably in three word bullet points.

I suggest we meet in appropriate corporate or edgy marketing attire at a suitable location -- a whiteboard perhaps, an AV projector.

Go ahead present your vision of the future in a succinct, and sizzly deck.

I will also have a nice PowerPoint presentation prepared.

20 minutes each. 20 minutes to blow people's minds.

And then, the people can decide provided they are still awake.

Mr. Boudinot, author of The Littlest Hitler and soon to be released novel Egg and Sperm, I am calling you out. I challenge you to a PowerPoint-off. I demand this, or I demand your immediate concession to my generally sensible and cogent explanations and thoughts about the future of Richard Hugo House.

Name your time. Name you place. Check my Outlook calendar and schedule a rumble.

Thank You,

Matt Briggs

I must ask:

Was it because of the ladies?
How come Lyall hasn't said anything about what happened? "Anon" called out the Board President to divulge the details, but doesn't their silence on this indicate that it was a "personnel matter"? I would expect Lyall to be the one deciding whether or not to say what happened, not the Board. That said, I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for a statement from him if this is indeed related to "the ladies" as referenced above, or any other impropriety on his part.
To Matt Briggs:

No thank you.

Ryan Boudinot

I regret your concession and defeat.

I hope you reconsider. There are many open source and non-Microsoft products to choose from for creating a presentation. I prefer (if this is your reservation). Myself, I prefer PowerPoint to all others.

Not the reasons at all why I declined. Best of luck to you and your future literary endeavors.

I think Ryan Boudinot is a chicken.
Thanks to Phoebe for pointing out the BTP error in PC's article.

The very successful and worthy "Books To Prisoners" program (referred to as "books for prisoners") was originally sponsored by Left Bank Books, not the Subtext reading series. Also this program has not closed, i.e., please send donations!

Fortunately or not, Subtext is more of a "prisoners of the book" sort of reading series. Which doesn't mean that we've stopped planning an escape from so-called prison house of language.

[end of letter to editor]

Frances should be commended for the aesthetic blank slate that (I thought) she tried to establish -- trying to make RHH a community meeting place for all sorts of writers/writing where things could happen.

That makes a lot more sense to me than trying to build an enterprise more focused on market values than aesthetic values. Though I guess the market can sort of become its own aesthetic.
I think Lyall Bush should comment.
Wow. This is what happens when an organization does a cover-up. Lyall is not going to talk as it would 1)put him on Oprah or cover of some store tabloid and 2)would embarass Hugo House. Many of us know what happened, so it is amazing in a good way, I guess, that this blog has been about Hugo House, and not the salacious details of Bush's firing, which is what happened.
Regardless of the nature of Lyall's departure from Hugo House - and, certainly, his "embarrassing missteps" - it is inarguable that Lyall made enormous strides to improve Hugo House's reading series and heighten the level of professionalism at the organization. Any talk of Hugo House becoming "corporate" is absurd. No one at Hugo House is raking in a large salary. Funding comes from well-deserved grants and donations. Lyall Bush did not make Hugo House "corporate." He took an organization that was being run in an incredibly disorganized manner and made it run more smoothly, in addition to bringing in talented readers. Hugo House continued, throughout Bush's run as Executive Director, to help kids, teens, and adults of all races, genders, sexual orientations, and socioeconomic levels to find a voice.

On a personal note, I have been involved with Richard Hugo House, and considered Lyall to be my mentor and even a father figure, since I was fifteen. Lyall helped me get through high school and into the college of my choice, and was consistently an enormous source of support both personally and professionally. This article paints Lyall Bush as a failure (the title is borderline ridiculous) and disregards the fact that he has played a positive role in the lives of many, myself included. Lyall Bush is one of the smartest, kindest human beings that I have ever encountered. I wish him the best of luck in whatever he chooses to do next.
Really, this takes the cake. If indeed Lyall gets these wonderful comments from women who helped him, isn't it owed the entire Seattle community to know the sexual harassment complaints that might have led to his firing. Or to help prove them wrong? Bad for Lyall; bad for Hugo House; bad for all the females that only saw one side of him.
Tea. Shut your fucking pie hole.
Lyall doesn't think he did anything wrong. If he doesn't understand that the boss can't sleep with employees, then he probably shouldn't be the boss. Nuff said.
matt, I am losing track of h.h. in your personal feelings.. is that what you really wanted??
Employees, students...
Hugo House is a bunch of Art Turds. You know how I know? If I was out with nothing to do, I'd rather stumble into the Jewel Box Theater rather than Hugo House. Once that switches, they will remain Art Turds.
Nunya, go to Cheap Wine and Poetry night at Hugo House. It's the most non-art turd poetry reading I've ever been to. I'll take that over anything at Jewel Box.
Hugo Fan, that is one night every 3 months! Does Hugo House exist the other 361 days of the year just for that?
I guess Hugo Fan has nothing to add.
I think Hugo House has to know what it is before it can even begin to discuss what it wants to become. And what it is is a very small school with mediocre teachers advising bored suburban housewives. If it doesn't want to be this, then it should be something else. If it wants to be Seattle Arts & Lecture, then it should shut down and everyone apply for work over there. But first things first, I say
I've been part of Hugo House off and on for four years now. Under its current administration, HH has been all about classes, residencies, and events. That's what HH is. All of its classes are nearly full and not just for suburban housewives. I take classes there regularly, if I'm lucky enough to get in, and am not a housewife nor have I ever lived in the suburbs. HH events have been better and better each time. Cheap Wine night is one of the coolest happenings in Seattle, and HH's new series has been especially cool too. No other organization in Seattle is commissioning big name and local writers for new writing. The residency program is a treasure. I met with Cody Walker and David Wagoner to talk about poetry for free. Where else can you sit down with a writer of Wagoner's caliber and get feedback on your work? For free?

Nunya, you sound just like Matt Briggs and the other HH haters. Hugo is doing cool stuff and has a lot of cool people working there. You should hang out there more often and see what it's really all about before passing judgment. You clearly haven't been there in awhile.
Hugo Fan, I've been in Seattle for 8 years and I know all about Hugo House. I'm not going to compete on specifics. But saying I need to "hang out there more often and see what it's really all about before passing judgment" is code for shutting me out and shutting out the community. No wonder it is in the shape it's in.
Wow. As a bored suburban housewife I am totally insulted. And bored. With you HH haters.
Nunya, it's not code. You SHOULD hang out there. The staff has turned over in the last few years, and everyone there is really cool. They care about HH. The programming has been better and better each year. That's why I'm a a member. HH might not be doing everything right, but they're onto something.
A friend who used to work at HH pointed out she was uncomfortable with the sense in this thread that the old days with Frances McCue were good and the recently passed days with Lyall Busg were bad. This kind of good/bad, hate/love mix seems to be part of the issue in trying to speak about any community minded thing. For some reason groupthink requires balkanized ideas in order to make sense of information. We need there to be East/West, Civilized/Barbarian, etc. I don't mind this kind of structure because I find it very clear -- but it is odd to me that so many people who are writers would accept this generalized and simplistic mode of thinking as an accurate representation. I don't believe that these individual writers actually accept it, but rather it exerts undue influence maybe in public discourse about public topics. It becomes a short hand and unfortunately as a short hand both helps to make arguments clearer and to obscure the issue.

I am not simply a HH hater. I was trying to get right to the silliness of their being just two sides to the issue with Ryan Boudinot when was categorically disagreeing with everything I said until were sounding immediately like two toddlers.

(Speaking of toddlers, I'd like to plug an upcoming dueling presentation of the future that I'll be doing with Doug Nufer. I will represent the hairy fairy hippie vision of possible Hugo House Futures. Doug Nufer will represent the hard minded, pragmatic businessperson's vision. I'm not sure where we'll do this yet, but I'll post it as soon as I know if you are all at interested. If not, don't look for it. End of plug.)

In the same way there is a weird suburban(bad)/urban(good) polarization that often happens it seems in Seattle arts conversations. it is odd to me that this is still the case since it seems to me that Matthew Stadler has done such an excellent and clear job of puncturing the myths that underlie this logic. Some of his work about this has even appeared in this paper.

I continue to have a stake in HH. It is clear to me that a lot of their people have their own way of thinking about also have their own sense of investment in the place. I think this is a good thing. It is exciting to see such a prolonged conversation. Someone asked above if I intended for my initial remarks to become personal. I don't know. Maybe I did? I had hoped even if I did that the conversation would drown me out, and it has more or less, I think.

Although apparently saying anything critical of HH places a person into the hater category, I wanted to point that my main issue with HH is that as a community writing center issues of access should be of primary concern. (To say the obvious, this is my opinion.) I've heard many personal stories both in the time I was a writer in residence there and afterward about individual writers having difficulty with HH around accessibility of the house. In fact during a fizzled community forum in 2003 or 4, this ended up being the main theme as far as I could tell among the people who showed up.

It sounds as if there are writers who had exactly the opposite experience during the same time frame. I think that is interesting and it would be interesting to know more about writers who have found benefit from the structure of the place.

A great deal of literary writing seems to me to foster a sense of learned-helpless in writers. Many writers depend on prizes, editorial acceptance in magazines and presses, certificates, book reviewers, and booksellers to validate their endeavor. For these writers, a writing resource center would constitute a way of supplying some of these things.

Personally I am less interested in a supply of these things. This is not to say I have never been concerned with them or that like many writers I don't spend more time than I probably should churning in a cycle of doubt, self-loathing, and megalomania that seems like it would be answered by the right prize, editorial acceptance, MFA or PHD program, review, or best selling book. Judging from the mental stability of some of our countries most lauded writers, I'm not sure if the cycle has a happy ending for writers.

I have found it more exciting to work with and watch and try to copywriters who just plow on ahead despite a supply of prizes, editorial acceptance in magazines and presses, or certificates. Seattle is full of writers such as Willie Smith, Marion Kimes, Jerome Gold, Clark Humphrey, the people who used to run the Zero Hour (Deran Ludd, Jim Jones, and Alice Wheeler) and the Northwest is full of these writers, people such as Dan Raphael, Charlie Potts, Paul Nelson, Kevin Sampsell, Rich Jensen, Polly Buckingham, Jim Munroe, etc)

Accessibility for this kind of writer is as simple as a word processor, a xerox machine, and a long arm stapler. And yet many of them have inadvertently benefited from the largess of Richard Hugo House. ZAPP actually had developed programming that supported this view of a writer. The DIY Academy was an excellent example of this and existed in the context of an organization that supported infrastructure style developments. Someone pointed out the Writer in Residence program seemed an example of this as well. I think so, too. However I had a fair share of people dropping in for their supply of validation. I didn't mind this. I said, "It's all right now," but some people didn't believe me even then.

I wonder can HH offer both a supply of prizes, editorial acceptance in magazines and presses, certificates, book reviewers, and book sellers and also support for essentially the writer who practically only needs a word processor, a xerox machine, and a long arm stapler? I believe this kind of writer needs some of the products of institutional organization such as distribution, visibility, discoverability, meeting room and conference space?

Often these two views of writers are seen as being odds. Lyall Bush, Alix Wilbur, and previous program directors at HH have had conversations with me where it was as much as said that these two visions of the house cannot in practicality co-exist. One program director actually did include a small press fair in an annual inquiry. ZAPP, too, suggests that it is possible.
First intelligent, non-trollish, comment you've made, Matt. I hear you and think there are some useful bits of wisdom in there. I will be watching.
Matt Briggs opens his mouth again. Quick, get a sandwich.
I think Matt Briggs wants to be the executive director of the HH. Come on Matt, just admit it. Why don't you apply for the job -- see if you can do it better. I'm personally sick of your comments.
Lyall Bush was THE best teacher I ever had and kept me afloat mentally and spiritually during some very hard times in my life.

He is a brilliant man and part of that comes from the fact that he is able to explain things to all people, from all walks of life so that they "get it"...

Whatever he did do, or didn't do, I think he deserves better than the innuendo that is being put up here.

He is a kind man who has dedictaed his life to make the arts accesible to all, young, old, black, white, latino etc.

Mr. Bush I you are the best teacher I ever had!
Excuse the misspellings in the previous post! That so doesn't reflect on Mr. Bush as a teacher! I just couldn't see well when I was typing!
Hugo Fan,

I give up. You win. Even though I enjoyed the Poetry Festival when it was at Hugo House, I had a table at the Small Press Fair, I like ZAPP and have my poetry zine down there, I featured at the first Cheap Wine & poetry and was just at their most recent one, an ex-girlfriend of mine taught some classes at the House, I guess I just don't get it and remain ignorant.

To knickersinatwist: I too am bored. Bored with thinking for myself.

So, you all make the Kool-Aid and I'll drink it.

Matt Briggs is a bore. Yawn.
As always with the stranger, half ass reporting and forgetting their former views:

October 18, 2006


Lyall Bush has only had the job of executive director of Richard Hugo House for a few months, but already he's done smart things. He scraped the guts out of the annual inquiry—where, in the past, anyone could propose talks or games or miscellany on a subject, and the public bought (or didn't buy) tickets—and used all that money to commission new work from writers he likes. And he chose great writers, including Greil Marcus, Rebecca Brown, David Rakoff, Charles D'Ambrosio, Ryan Boudinot, Deb Caletti, Trisha Ready, and Stacey Levine. The organization used to be a collection of vague purposes; there's nothing vague about what Bush—a fine writer in his own right—is doing. He's using Hugo House's resources to bring great writing into the world. Matthew Stadler speculated at a reading earlier this year that Bush will turn Hugo House into "something we can't even imagine." CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE

The Stranger is the most incompetant half ass rag around!
It certainly sounds like Lyall "Bush [has] turned Hugo House into 'something we can't even imagine.'" As a person who was considering apply for his position, reconsideration is at hand. Thank you for the education.

And as for the delicious scandal we're nurturing:
It sounds like Mary M., above, might still be sipping her tea, or at least wanting to keep open the possibility of another cup. More power to ya Mary! -- I hope ya get another taste. I hope you're over 18.

Maybe John Marshall will hire a caricaturist to do a cartoon of the suave Mr. Bush, preferably with a goofy scarf around his neck, surrounded by his Hugo House Honeys.

Maybe there should be a "Rate Lyall Bush in Bed" Blog -- Kali, Tea, Mary ? Whadda ya say, Ladies?

Staying tuned--
Dear Laughing,

I was not a "HH Honey" I was in an adult education class somewhere else when I met Mr. Bush. The friends I referred to were 1 female and two MALE...We all think the world of him. We loved his teaching style so much that when it ended we begged him to run a book group with us for a while after.

All of us came from backgrounds that made us wary and distrustful. Mr Bush never in anyway did anything to make us worried that our safety was in jeopordy. One of us was even a former sex worker who overcame her heroin addiction during the time we had class and she always felt valued by Mr. Bush not for her past but his belief in her intelligence and the potential of her future.

He reminded us all of who we are, not who we were.

If you have something to say, say it, instead of making vague slanderous comments. That is the problem here. The Stranger writes an article that reverses its former opinion of Mr. Bush and then states "facts" that are not substantiated in any way.

You come off as bitter and creepy and I am glad that you are no longer considering applying for that position. Funny how you won't even put your name down behind your comment.

Lyall Bush sounds like a great guy, I wish I had met him. Matt Briggs -- your humor and intelligence show through your writing. I think that I agree with your spirit fully, if not every detail of what you say. Even so I wouldn't spend 20 min on a PowerPoint presentation even if it was yours.

I organized in Seattle on my own dime about 10 years ago - I hosted about 200 readings and participated in about 30 larger events (including the poetry festival which went on while the HH was under construction.) Ironically enough the one time I was accused of sexual harassment was probably the only time I didn't deserve it. Lyall -- if that is all that happened then congratulations are in order.

The HH has always struck me as tedious and corporate, however well intentioned and friendly. I have always liked the people involved, but never had much respect for the organization.

If you want to do something for writers, become a better reader.

The point when the legal system can plausibly be introduced to the sexual relationships between the adult members of an arts organization, I think, is probably exactly when that organization has gotten too big and should sell it's office supplies on ebay and fold up shop.

Being an artist has always been about being a human being for me, and being a human being has a lot to do with being a monkey.

Ryan Boudinot -- you are a fine exemplar of why I will not ever take a creative writing class.

James D. Newman
As a friend of Hugo House and Lyall Bush, I’ve been watching the comments unfold on the story of his departure with real horror.

I wonder if this 'public dialogue' has gone past the point of being good for anyone, and into the arena of being potentially very destructive for Lyall, Hugo House, and other individuals who are not public figures but are trying to go on with their lives.

I hope that the editors of the Stranger will close this article for comments.
I try to reserve my horror for things like the international small arms trade. This conversation is just silly.

The problem is one of taking oneself too seriously -- it needs to be aired because it is choking the Seattle Arts community.

Morbid self seriousness is the great failing of almost every arts organization I have worked with for the last 12 years -- and it has been a few.

The solution is breathing, laughing (at ourselves and each other) and not patronizing organizations that feel creepy and stiff and vaguely like East Coast Social Science departments.

More freedom, fewer mission statements.
Thanks, James.

It's so sensible, what you say about how we shouldn't patronize institutions we don't like. Also, thank you, and everyone else on this thread who is using your full name, for doing so.

It is true that the international small arms trade is more horrifying than this conversation. I do not dispute it.

And perhaps arts organizations take themselves too seriously, I have no expertise in this area.

But I am not an arts organization, I am a private individual, and this conversation does not feel silly or laughable to me.

It is laden with anonymous invective, contempt, and character assassinations; weapons that to my ear sound more characteristic of the Karl Rove arsenal than of an effort at clearing the airways of the Seattle Arts community.

Many of the comments are cruel, crafted to inflict suffering, and most of those anonymously so.

I think words are powerful, and can damage real living beings, when they are used with aggression and the intent to harm, humiliate, or silence others.

I think we must make a real effort to talk to one another with gentleness, respect, and dignity, even when we have not been spoken to that way ourselves, even when we don't feel like it.

Thanks for allowing me to say that.


I agree with James D. Newman one hundred percent.
What I find amusing is that nobody except Matt Carvalho has mentioned or even hinted to what a poor piece of journalism this article is. Of all the words and sentences, their are only 2 facts within it. 1] Lyall Bush has left. 2] Hugo House is searching for a new director. ALL the rest is rumor, misleading punctuation and tawdry innuendo. Shame on P-Dawg and shame on his boss. Please do better in the future.