Monday, March 1, 2010

Poets or Just Me Continued

(originally written in comment box but got all long so I decided to make it a post and that is what this is)

Hey, brother! I'm not sure exactly what I was aiming for with that post except to encourage folks towards engagement with their work through positive means. I am not so interested in the possibilities of self-promotion as I am in developing confidence and self-assurance to go forward rather than hold oneself back out of some kind of guilt or misguided allegiance.

I think poets especially tend to be afraid that to be ambitious or successful might mean supporting or colluding with a society that we deem corrupt and oppressive in many ways. By success and ambition I don't mean monetary success or career-oriented ambition although I do think that I have made the mistake of conflating my negative associations with that idea of success with any possible ideas of success.

For the poetry community that I am a part of (this is in itself a generalization), money is not often an issue. As my friend John pointed out, it is a gift economy. Money is of course an issue for every poet in many, many senses but it is not often seen as a marker of "success". Success tends to be marked more by popularity, which can mean both popularity of one's work but also socially. Success is also measured by the literary achievement of the work, of course but I think it is important to note that in the absence of validation through monetary gain, social validation will often suffice. This is not to say that it should not.

I think too that poets/artists/PEOPLE often make the mistake that to celebrate any aspect of a potentially corrupt society is to support it as a whole.

I want to make clear that many of these motivations and associations, are or can often be unconscious, or at least had been for me to a degree for quite some time.

I was inspired to write my previous post and this one, in part because of an incredibly exciting and inspiring poetry event that I attended a few weekends ago, which was a benefit for Try! Magazine. Without getting into too much detail about the event, I would just say that it incorporated everything I love about being part of a poetic community including more than anything the celebration of an incredibly "successful" venture. One, I might add, that has never made anyone (I am pretty sure) a dime.

I am in the process of trying to understand where my own associations with success come from and fully realizing how they have affected the choices I have made. I realize that it is unfair to project my own worries about success onto my friends and colleagues but do feel that as we share many positive reasons for engaging with poetic (especially avant gard) communities, we may also share some that come from places that are hidden from us as well.

No comments: