Being Well Read or Being Well Hipster
Recently on our website Chicagopostmodernpoetry.com I went through somewhat of an ordeal that proved to be worth the time and effort. This was to put up a Global Profile of France that was masterfully edited by Jennifer K Dick of Paris and Iowa City.
The French of course are very Exigente as they say in the language of God and Dante but one of the things that came out of this set of interviews, poetry and such was how well read these people are. France is one of those nations along with Italy, Spain, Russia, Poland and a few others where the Intellectual has a societial place of prominence as opposed to the US where Intellectuals are a curiosity.
I am around allot of poets and allot of normal everyday people. Since I work as a business person and do not live in academia I get to juxtopose different ways of thinking and being one with another. The facts are that most Americans are profoundly uncurious they do not read or care about the outside world, but many American poets are also profoundly uncurious. They spend their time on what they know reinforcing what they know to themselves.
You would think that since poets and poetry are profoundly marginalized they would also be profoundly well read and well formed but that is not true they are in many ways as narrow as accountants or lawyers.
I have always been attracted to artists who are profoundly well read and engaged. This is why at times I cannot deal with the University of Chicago (Add Elite U Here)
crowd that lives in a land that is so unengaged. but another part is the fact that no one is looking for stimulation or insight outside of themselves.
These French writers we profiled seem to be in dialogue with allot more people than those of us in the USA and they seem to have subsumed intellectual snobbery for intellectual curiousity.
I find in so many of my poet friends the desire to be Urban Hipsters, or Feminist Critics, or whatever is hip a the moment and a lack of desire to be solid and to be well read and to be engaged in the world as rich as it is.
I had a conversation with Simone Muench once, a poet with whom none of the aforementioned is true; and she said about "poet of the moment" "But really how well read is that poet, what do they know?"
I have always been drawn to poets and artists who had a life breadth who live life fully. Dante, Blake, Hopkins, Merton, Jackson Pollock, Picasso, Zanzotto, Regis Bonvicino, Marjorie Perloff, Charles Bernstein; people whose life and work and reading are deep but people who also are ok having a pastrami sandwich or a shot and a beer as well.
Well this is at least what I am thinking about as I watch the White Sox collapse.