6/CHRONICLESnA poet laureate of the United Statesnhas been named: Robert Penn Warren.nIn Britain the poet laureate is appointednby the Queen’s ministers, whichnmakes the choice a pohtical queshon.nAsking why Mrs. Thatcher’s conservativengovernment appointed TednHughes is hke asking why she chose tondestroy the D’Oyly Carte opera or proposedn(allegedly) to eliminate the RegiusnProfessors of Greek. But here in thenU.S. we shall never know RonaldnReagan’s taste in poetry (Robert Servicenhas been dead for some time),nsince the selection has been made bynDaniel Boorstin, Librarian of Congress.nAn act of Congress has authorizednMr. Boorstin to name our nationalnpoet. The Library of Congress sees itnas only a change in name. Since 1937,nthe Library has had a consultant innpoetry—a position held by poets goodn(Robert Frost, Conrad Aiken) and indifferentn(Stephen Spender—not evenna bl—dy American!). Until recently,nthe honor of American verse was upheldnby a good woman from Illinois,nGwendolyn Brooks, the first blacknwoman in the position. Her retirementnis the occasion of the “name change.”nFortunately for the American people,nDaniel Boorstin had the taste andndiscretion to pick one of our best livingnpoets. Robert Penn Warren was annalmost inevitable choice, since he hasnreceived almost every other literarynhonor in the U.S. Equally distinguishednas a poet and novelist, Mr,nWarren also represents two of the greatnliterary regions of the U.S.: born innKentucky and educated at Vanderbilt,nhe chooses to live in New England as anConnecticut Yankee. The Americannpeople were fortunate in having Mr,nBoorstin as Librarian at this criticalntime. But what will happen whennsomeone less responsible inevitablynbecomes Librarian of Congress? Thennas our national poet we shall have tonendure an academic flatfoot writingnverse in fibrillating rhythm and congestednsyntax addressed to whatevernCULTURAL REVOLUTIONSnstudent he happens to have his eye onnthis week.nIt may be unwise for a republic, likenthe United States, to have a poet laureate,nespecially at a hme when there isnso little agreement. We are no longerncertain about what constitutes seriousnpoetry, and many of our citizens apparentlynhave no idea of just what itnmeans, being an American. A republicannlaureate ought to be someonenhistorically inevitable, like Vergil. Instead,nhe is more likely to be a courtnflunky of the type that continues tondegrade the profession of letters atncolleges and PEN conferences. Afternthe Revolution, the American peoplenforeswore all notions of title and degree.nWe did away with royal crownsnand ducal coronets, whether wisely ornnot it is still hard to say but we did it. Anrepublican laureate is something like ancongressional court jester—a positionnfilled admirably by the current Speakernof the House. We could do far worsen(probably shall) than to designate thenHonorable Mr. O’Neill as Warren’snsuccessor.nYou can lead a horse to water. … Anstudy concluded in January by thenPhysicians Task Force on Hunger atnthe Harvard School of Public Healthnhas perplexed a lot of North Dakotans.nThe study found that 11 North Dakotancounties were among 150 U.S. countiesnwhere people are starving and havenrestricted access to food stamps. Thesen”hunger counties” were defined asnthose where more than a fifth of thenresidents live below the current Federalnpoverty level of $10,609 for a familynof four, and where fewer than a thirdnof those eligible receive food stamps.nStrangely, 13 of the 24 states containingn”hunger counties” are in thenfood-producing Mississippi Valley andnGreat Plains. “I’ve felt for years thatnpeople in this state for whatever reasonnare a littie more reticent about going innand applying for (welfare) programs.nnn. . . Maybe it’s the rural background,”nexplained the director of economicnassistance for the North Dakota Departmentnof Human Services in an APnstory.nThe director of human services fornBowman and Slope counties complained,n”People are proud. If there isnsome way they can make it, they will.”nSlope county, population 1,157, hasnthe 13th worst hunger problem in thennation, according to the Harvard report.nHettinger county, next door, wasnranked 15th.nThe authors of the study attributednthe “problem” to a weak food-stampnprogram, but residents of the NorthnDakota “hunger counties” have exhibitedna surprising and, well, ungraciousnattitude about the study. Interviewednfor local and national TV and newspapernstories, these folks said they knewnall about food stamps and would driveninto town to get them if they wantednthem — but they don’t want them.nThey raise most of their own food andnjust don’t need to spend much onngroceries. They’re happy; they getnenough to eat; and they want to be leftnalone — a bureaucrat’s nightmare.n—Jane GreernReUgious edueation in Ameriea goesnback a long way. Harvard and Yalenwere both founded as religious institutions,nbut church-supported collegesnare under increasing pressure to hirenfaculty members on any basis othernthan church affiliation. Congress didngrant denominational colleges an exemptionnfrom the 1964 Civil RightsnAct, but a recent article in the Chroniclenof Higher Education lists six statesnin which lawsuits and proposed regulationsnare whittiing away at more thannthe edges of this exemption. LoyolanUniversity of Chicago is now embroilednin a lawsuit for its decision tonfill three philosophy positions withnJesuits, even though it has a goodnrecord of hiring non-Catholics. Loyolan