They talk about po-biz which means to run with the stars, attend AWP, rub hoodies with the clerks who sort the poetry at Paris Review. You could do all that. And still not get any attention. Or you could be like Emily Dickinson and write in your little house dressed in white, completely missing the Civil War, you could miss all that and yet become famous. But you have to die first. You have to die with seven poems published. You have to die and then you can be read. Which might be okay with you. But probably isn’t. Because some of us would like to be part of the party. Part of the conversation around poetry. Part of the dialogue around words and wordsmiths. Some of us might want recognition. Maybe even a job. Yeah, if we had a job, we could write even more of that amazing poetry.
Kay Ryan wrote great poetry and just sent it out. And her girlfriend Carol helped to send it out. Maybe you find your own Carol to send out your work. To be your champion. She’s reading for us on November 11th in Pasadena with Dana Gioia and Jane Smiley.
Or, you could be like the young generation of poets whose performance makes you want to put down your iPhone and listen: Doug Kearney and Camille Dungy, who pull you into the tongue and groove of their language like a slippery waterfall. You’re in before you know it. You have entered the kingdom. Doug’s reading in Pasadena at Boston Court on November 27th with another performance poet who combines visual imagery with language, Nicelle Davis, and that’s moderated by Brendan Constantine. He’s a crowd pleaser; an electrifying performer who makes your hair stand on end. He’s reading at the Gerding in Portland Oregon with Tess Gallager on October 29th. Which brings me to my next point, you notice what these active energetic poets are doing? They are making their poems get out there and work for them. They are not letting those poems sleep or even lie down and take a little nap. You can’t go on vacation from poetry. You have to feel its alive wild throbbing while you think and walk around. I don’t believe in po-biz or in having a poetry career or being mid career or late career. Poetry is something you choose to do instead of a career. It’s a life and sometimes it feels like smashing watermelons, and other times it feels like waiting for watermelons to grow, but there’s always growing. And you can’t knock water. Or melons either for that matter.