Monday, October 24, 2011

Publishing Blues

Sitting in the hall of the XXXX Creative Writing Center in New York City, I feel simultaneously at ease, as if surrounded, finally, by likeminded people, kindred spirits even, and like I don't know what the hell I'm doing here. I exult in language that has presented itself to another poet, here read aloud under soft track lighting, illuminating a personal map of the world so unique, so precise, as to render it beautiful regardless of what populates its topography.

I despair a little, too, if I'm not careful, when I compare their words to my own for, depending on the writer, mine might seem to me at any given moment too ornate or too spare, too obfuscating or too naked. But no, I know better than to do this for very long, because in my poet's heart, perhaps uncharacteristically optimistic, I do believe there is infinite capacity for originality in this life. That though there be "nothing new under the sun," there are eternally emerging new ways to describe what is old, what has been felt or even said before. This gathering has taught me, too, how against the fashionable grain this naive view really is.

I believe poems are like human faces, genetically limitless in their possibilities over the generations, and though one might find one face staring out from the borders of a photograph like an ancient windowpane, startlingly familiar, there is always the variation of color, shape, expression, that distinguishes it from the known. The extant and already recorded.

No, what makes me despair are the bad poems, and I consider myself a generous judge, an astute reader but compassionate and trusting nonetheless. Still, there is crap that gets read at a thing like this (is it laziness, after all, that drives a poet to publish work that feels unfinished?), and it is this content which crawls up under my fingernails and bores into my flesh like parasitic doubt, makes me swim in the arbitrariness of it all. What indeed swung this poet into favor and kept her there for so long that she cannot fall out?

The reading is punctuated, after all, with bright moments that make me sigh, that drive me back into my primal sense of love and beauty, and for these I can appreciate the whole of the delivery, but the backdrop, grim and banal at times, is what makes me wonder if I could ever count in this world where all I have are my verses, tenderly crafted, kissed onto the page over two decades, and not a single "relationship" that could place me squarely in the game, nor knowledge or hope of moving strategically within it. 

No comments:

Post a Comment