On Stupidly Dangerous Homeless Ideas And An Irritable Métis As Montana’s New Poet Laureate

by Travis Mateer

While I tell random paramedics at a sandwich shop the story of a black man euthanized in a private hospital room by the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office, the man pictured above, Chris La Tray, just took over the Montana Laureate position from Mark Gibbons. Congratulations, La Tray, I’m sure that phone call you got from the Governor was delightful!

If Chris La Tray sported the kind of lower packaging the hair on his face suggests, he WOULD HAVE told Governor Gianforte to go fuck himself. Why? Because La Tray is An Irritable Métis, and telling people who make inaccurate assumptions to fuck themselves is a part of his brand.

Referring to Montana’s Governor as a “creation museum guy”, and implying that his election indicates “people here are dumb”, is also a part of his brand, and that’s how I, myself, got the privilege of being told to go fuck myself by An Irritable Métis. From the link:

No, Chris, I didn’t know shit about your life, which is why I formed that last sentence in my tweet as a question, which you can tell from my use of a question mark at the end of it. Maybe assuming you understood this as a writer is simply a product of my own white privilege.

Anyway, here’s the part from the article where La Tray gets a phone call from the man he once mocked from the safe distance of Twitter:

Chris La Tray didn’t start out wanting to write poetry. He was far more interested in rock n’ roll.

“I was one of those kids who thought I hated poetry because it was incomprehensible, dead white guys. So much is obtuse,” said La Tray, who grew up in Frenchtown and is an enrolled member of the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians. After graduating high school in 1986, he moved to Seattle, where he began playing in rock bands.

Along the way, La Tray found his way to poetry. A Métis storyteller, he shares his life and observations of the world through writing. He’s been back in Montana since 2005, and on Monday, he received a call from Gov. Greg Gianforte, informing La Tray that he’d been selected as Montana’s next poet laureate.

And here is the part where we learn part of La Tray’s mission will be going to…wait for it…RURAL places to hopefully make those fucking hicks less dumb. Don’t worry, since he ain’t never been to college before, like I had wrongly assumed, we can perhaps RIGHTLY assume La Tray speaks working-class (more of my emphasis):

La Tray’s intention as Montana’s next poet laureate is to bring writing and poetry to rural parts of Montana, reservation communities and tribal colleges around the state, as well as into prisons. This work is an extension of La Tray’s work with elementary students on the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Reservation on behalf of the Missoula Writing Collaborative.“One of the problems I have with poetry is that it’s been blindfolded and gagged and dragged off to the ivory tower,” said La Tray, who doesn’t come from academia and didn’t attend college. “If you love something, you can pursue it and set your own framework for how to accomplish it. We shouldn’t have to go into a lifetime of debt to do all the things that we want to do.”

If I’m sounding more than a little annoyed, maybe it’s because I tortured myself earlier in the day (Wednesday) by listening to the dismaying conversation surrounding the Johnson Street shelter and where to let people do drugs.

The harm-reduction people will say do the drugs INSIDE, but the WE DIDN’T SIGN UP FOR THIS SHIT people (paid staff) will say do the fucking drugs somewhere else and let the hilarious joke of a criminal justice system deal with it (it won’t).

Since Poverello Center harm-reduction policies were a contributing factor to Sean Stevenson’s death INSIDE the fucking homeless shelter, I find this conversation absolutely maddening.

How about this: do an IN DEPTH investigation on this ONE suspicious death INSIDE the homeless shelter operating on HARM-REDUCTION policies, then, when that investigation is complete, and we all learn a thing or two, only THEN should we be talking about instituting the same stupid damn policies in a SECOND homeless shelter.

Yes, I’m yelling and swearing a lot, I know, so instead of trudging further up anger mountain, let’s stroll to the verdant valley of poetry where the ivory tower taught this privileged white guy to rhyme his ass off when the going gets as fucking obnoxious as it is right now.

If you’d like to support this white guy, Travis’ Impact Fund (TIF) is one way to do that, and the donation button at my about page is another.

Thanks for reading!

About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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