Tuesday, August 22, 2000

Poet's scholarship restored




By Steve Kemme
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A Cincinnati arts organization that revoked a $500 college scholarship it had awarded to an 18-year-old woman after she read a poem some found offensive has restored her scholarship.

        ArtWorks sent a courier to Nina Caporale's Mason house over the weekend with an envelope containing a $500 check.

        ArtWorks, which is sponsoring the Big Pig Gig Public Project, awarded a $500 college scholarship to Ms. Caporale at the Aug. 10 closing ceremony for its summer job training program for young artists.

        ArtWorks executive director Tamara Harkavy revoked the scholarship after the ceremony because Ms. Caporale read a poem titled “You Ass.” The poem, which satirized artists who are afraid to express their true feelings, used the word “ass” several times.

        Ms. Caporale had participated in ArtWorks' Speak Out summer poetry project. KnowledgeWorks Foundation of Cincinnati provided the scholarship through ArtWorks.

        “We're pleased that it's over,” said Ms. Caporale's father, Michael.

        The envelope from ArtWorks also contained a letter to Ms. Caporale from Ms. Harkavy saying ArtWorks was issuing the scholarship “in the spirit of compromise and in the spirit of community discussion.”

        She said ArtWorks will invite Ms. Caporale and other students who were in her poetry group in Speak Out to have a poetry reading during the Thanksgiving school break in November.

        “In closing,” Ms. Harkavy writes in her letter, “it is really a shame, for all parties, that this got so far out of hand. ... With lessons learned, there will be benefits for everybody involved.”

        Mr. Caporale was not totally satisfied with the letter, which he called “conciliatory, but not apologetic.”

        He said ArtWorks had wanted to issue a joint statement with the Caporales, but they could not agree on what to say.

        “My only condition was that the statement clear Nina of any wrongdoing, but they wouldn't do that,” Mr. Caporale said. “That's not to say Nina doesn't bear any responsibility. But she didn't break any rules. She used her judgment.”

        Ms. Caporale, who graduated from Summit Country Day, will attend Sarah Lawrence College. She received a $20,000 grant from the college.

       



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