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POETRYETC  October 2008

POETRYETC October 2008

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Subject:

Re: anthologists

From:

Kenneth Wolman <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Poetryetc: poetry and poetics

Date:

Wed, 29 Oct 2008 21:40:44 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (58 lines)

David Bircumshaw wrote:
> I'll try to elaborate something Candice: of late I have developed a
> morbid fear of being seen as A Poet. Crudely put, among middle-class
> people it tends to awake a feeding frenzy in psychological vampires,
> while among lower-class people it triggers nihilistic crudity in
> limerick rhymes. I hate the pretension of vocation, for me it's a
> burden I wish I never had, I would much rather have been a bricklayer,
> for example, like my dad, at least it's a honest job. Poetry is
> magnificent, at times, yes, and it also sucks, it's full of phonies,
> it's all too much a picture of Us, the supremely misnamed homo sapiens
> sapiens.
>   

I thought this was an American phenomenon: call me a poet and I'm marked 
as a ponce who flounces about in a lace shirt, drinks his weight in 
anything from Bushmill's to antifreeze, and follows men into bathroom 
stalls in train stations (or is that habit confined to American 
politicians?).  I've mentioned before that Robert Kroetsch "ordained" me 
in 1972--accused me of being a poet--and I didn't know how to react: do 
I hit him or run out of the room and hide in the potty?  See, names also 
gives you something to live up to, and I hate that idea.  I see myself 
as essentially talentless like Sinclair Lewis.  Lewis, when he got the 
call he'd won the Nobel Prize for Literature, exclaimed "This will be 
the death of me, I can't live up to it." Not a lie. He couldn't and it was.

The whole thing feels like a fucking imposture, even 36 years later.

I have said to people near to me "I wish my parents had insisted I learn 
a trade."  My father was an electrician.  My mother was on the fourth 
Cross on Calvary.  So everyone had an activity or hobby. I became an 
English Major.  Useful?  Yes, to perpetuate the enclosure.

I am even reluctant to mention writing to my lit & comp students.  I 
give them, freshmen, Ted Berrigan sonnets to analyze.  I am tempted to 
sneak my own work in there but I won't do it.  "It's not about me."  
Which is of course anti-vanity crap: everything about a poet is the poem.

> The very crude snap I posted earlier has perked my interest again: I
> would like to find a way to write rant that is aesthetically
> satisfying at the same time too, a kind of formalisation of fury,
> examples from the last century, such as Howl or the Usura Canto don't
> really work, the Jacobeans could do it at times, but that was their
> language, so I'm going to plot the development of a new form: the
> Gibberhell (I've decided to drop the the final 'e') More later.
>   

I am doing some offline rants at the moment: they may fly.  I do not do 
rant well because they are always a bit too transparent, and I 
inevitably get blocks of crap hurled back at me from people on this list 
because I tend toward statements instead of "gentle reflections."

Ken

-- 
Ken Wolman	http://bestiaire.typepad.com	http://www.petsit.com/content317832.html
-------------------
"I have been watching you; you were there, unconcerned perhaps, but with a strange distraught air of someone forever expecting a great misfortune, in sunlight, in a beautiful garden."--Maurice Maeterlinck, Pelleas et Melisande

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