IN RESPONSE to Brian McGrory's Feb. 27 City & Region column, "The meter is running," I write in support of my colleague, Councilor John Tobin, and the idea to appoint a poet laureate for the City of Boston. I strongly disagree with any suggestion that Councilor Tobin's idea diverts the Boston City Council's attention from issues such as affordable housing and crime.
Fighting crime and promoting the arts are not mutually exclusive. The arts community is invaluable to Boston. In recent years, it has helped reclaim the Leather District, the Fort Point District, areas of Jamaica Plain, the South End, and other places. According to the Boston Foundation, arts and cultural organizations account for an estimated $100 million in economic development to the city annually.
Public arts not only bring cultural and economic enrichment to city residents. They also contribute to Boston's reputation as a world-class metropolis.
Yes, Boston has a lot of work to be done, and public safety is a chief concern. That said, let's not belittle Councilor Tobin for looking at creative ways to improve our city. Perhaps more investment in promoting the arts will encourage young people to pick up a brush, a pen, or a pile of clay, rather than a gun.
HAS BRIAN McGrory done more damage to literary Boston by ridiculing the designation of a city poet or by publishing his own haikus and limericks in the Feb. 27 edition of the Globe?
While we contemplate that question, let's give a pat to Councilor Tobin for promoting a more supportive literary environment in Boston. His proposal to establish the position of city poet is part of a bigger culture-building effort involving groups like Grub Street, a local writers' organization that is working to preserve the written memoirs of senior citizens in many neighborhoods.
Good literary work touches real lives.