Postmodern Collage Poetry

A blog about writing collage poetry, post modern poetry, multi lingual poetry

Monday, May 03, 2004

Selfishness and Success

Poets- unlike others need to move beyond their genetic introversion and build community. Some of this is done by blogs and webservs but Blogs, have become a way for poets to have their own echo chamber and not to listen to others. The key to poetry is community, dialogue and innovation.

Of late I have been thinking about the various writers I know and wondering is there a Pound or Williams or HD among them? One of the things that fills me with dread and regret is the lack of generosity among Poets; poets on the whole do not believe that there is plenty of room for everyone, hence if you succeed naturally another poet must be pushed out. I totally reject this notion and I think what is keeping poetry and much serious art from being taken seriously by many more people is this clubby attitude this idea that if I share light and heat with another it will hurt me. Push open the windows and let the light in it wont hurt.

In the literary past it is in great literary friendships that the best writing comes forth to us. Just a short list, Pound/Eliot, Pound/Joyce, Williams/Olson, Williams/Zukofsky, HD/Pound, Nin/Miller, Neruda/Lorca, Creeley/Olsen, or your could go back to Augustine and St Jerome and more and more. I think that what poets in particular should be doing is networking but in a generous way.

The bottom line is that there are 200-300 serious poets in the USA and why should we not be a choir rather than 300 soloists? I think that the Poets Against the War people have done a good job of making poetry 'relevant' but it needs to be made more relevant by showing people what matters. Poetry is news that remains news as our dear Ezra told us and that is what is true is the best sense of that word.

I have found that the larger the literary community the more petty it can be, New York is the worst because there are so many poets and so much to play for it is also the nature of that city. SF is about the same except the people are nicer. In the second tier cities; Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas, Philly, people are more open but the moment someone from New York or San Francisco arrives the 'poets dance' begins and people position themselves for advantage. I think that key to all of this is to remember what is important. No one will every make money as a poet, hell Christian Wiman makes $50,000 a year editing Poetry Magazine, that is less than many secretaries make, but we as poets can have an impact, more like the ripples made by a pebble than the big splash of fiction and Journalism. We need to continue to critique life as poets.

And just when I reach the darkness of despair I am reminded of people whose generosity have been fresh water flowing across my dryness, Sina Queyras, Brian Clements, Joe Ahearn, Mark Tardi, Peter Gizzi, Kerri Sonnenberg, Jesse Seldess, William Allegrezza, Pierre Joris, Catherine Daly and many others who are generous and remember that poetry is not just a solitary work but a communal one. In the end what are we doing? Is poetry masturbation? Or is it the chorus in the Greek tragedy we dwell within? As Paulo Leminski said, ' if you want to be a poet, be a poet'.

I choose poetry because it is clean I am reading Clayton Eshelman's book on Lascaux right now apart from being a real vice on the brain he brings something forth, poetry, the oldest artform colors all the
others it makes the others alive and brings us on a journey to listen to what words andl language tell us that we are not alone.