Yeah, ok, but y'all are missing the point -- Ron is talking about the consolidation of cultural capital and power. Who gets in the anthologies. Who gets the books from Knopf. Who gets taught. Who cares?
Anybody who writes or reads, that's who.
You have an experience, you want to be able to talk to someone about it. You don't want that experience to be minimized, set aside, belittled.
Therefore, we go around minimizing and belittling other peoples' experiences.
All this is about is the room to talk about the work. No side has a monopoly on the need for consensual validation -- the maniacal drive to get every last person to agree that yes, that experience you had sure was an experience worth having -- possibly the greatest experience of its kind ever had, and thanks for pointing it out to me, are you magic? Would it be ok if I just camped out over here on the sidewalk and waited for you to tell me what to read next?
I certainly hope a winner will be chosen soon -- and that I won't have to keep reading all this poetry that y'all keep telling me can't possibly be any good. It's funny, it feels good -- I feel good -- while I'm reading it, but then you show me how it can't possibly be any good.
No wonder Li-Young Lee wandered away from the podium, and no wonder Reginald Shepherd wants to get away from all the categorizing and back to the experience.
There's no experience to get back to. Yeats and the dancer/dance problem, Hendrix's experience/experienced.
This isn't a fashion problem the early modernists (or even the Romantics) invented. Once a name gets attached to a work, they're the most important two or three words there (got your back, William Least Heat Moon).
Every writer knows this. It's the reason we become writers, actually. Proof. Proof we're whatever. Real, lovable, geniuses, badasses, whatever.
I say whatever because it's extremely important for a writer to be aware of what's motivating the urge to be a representative of humanity to time. So important that if we take it seriously (as Palattella seems to be hinting is the case with K. Young) we freak out, go flat, conquer Europe.
The comedian keeping the audience warm between bits last night at the taping of Cheap Seats was hitting well -- no homers, but a lot of line drives to the outfield: "I think my friend's cats are gay. They sit around licking each other, spooning in the window, criticizing my clothes."
Comedians want to be famous. There is no getting around it, it's why they do it. I'm not saying they have it easy -- there's no fudge room, Andy Kaufman notwithstanding. You laugh or you don't. Enough people laugh, you get to come back. Play bigger rooms. Do tv, record, make movies, retire to the hills.
Poets want to be God. (If God turns out to be Jim Behrle... no, I can feel my head starting to explode already. Heading back the other way now.) Poets don't want you to know how to take their work in advance; at the same time, they want, as Reginald Shepherd points out, to have read everybody else's work in advance.
If therapy were universally free and compulsory, like middle school, it would probably suck universally.
The great freedom of poetry is that no one ever knows in advance what it will be. Naturally, poets respond by putting on mind-forg'd manacles and going on hunger strikes.
I don't recommend being open to everyone's work. Better to have three or four close friends who ridicule you incessantly, and whom you prompt to greatness in turn. Talent is the disappointment of not having friends close enough to express impatience.
Climb down from art history before it gets dark.
Jordan - #