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« Gracie Allen for President (by Lawrence J. Epstein) | Main | Kristen Bell's Sloth Meltdown [by Jordan Davis] »

February 23, 2012


epileptic owl music!

We're serving slaw tonight with pulled pork and macaroons. But since the cabbage is already steeping, I'll settle for your consolations, Dr. Pangloss.

So that's what I've been doing wrong. Never much cared for cole slaw.

Complaints are an also unavoidable excrescence of Things As They Are, and very good for everything in every way. Why are you NOT grousing? C'mon, Mr. Davis, get with the program. Don't rock the boat with all this serenity.

I used to be the King of Snark
Until they tossed me off the ark..

If too many complaints is a beef, you'd better be terse in filing your own complaint, so I'll thank you for this thought-out post before adding, as invited, to the list. Too many of us act as though the success of anyone else occurs to our own detriment. The reflexive put-down makes me feel a little ashamed -- just as I cringe when I encounter bitterness from writers who have not received the recognition that is their due. Do they realize that they are communicating their disappointment with life? -- DL

Thanks, David. Envy is a constant in Poetryland, most definitely, and as toxic there as anywhere else.

If I were going to have a complaint, which I'm not, but speaking hypothetically, it would be that poetry can always be grander, livelier, and truer than it has been. The concern with status and the next opportunity each poet feels seems, hypothetically of course, to get in the way of everyone's total focus on being delightful. As we know, and contrary to this hypothetical complaint, poetry is too strong too resilient to be kept down by poets for too long. It breaks through.

I would humbly submit just one more comment. The issue of envy, grievance, criticism & complaint, among artists & poets, is inevitably a gray area. And the suggestion that one can & should always be positive is stifling perfectionism. No one person's perceptions, taste, worldview, knowledge, etc. are going to be exactly the same as another's. Complaint is sometimes the other side of growing pains : the artists senses something missing in the given scene, the present moment - something only he or she, in the end, can supply. Hence the famous irascibility, high-short-temperedness of artists : it's partly edginess at the edge of anticipation.

Of course complaining & envy et al. are pervasive and not very praiseworthy : I'm only suggesting that they may sometimes be forgivable - and mean something other & more than the pettiness they express on the surface. Sometimes.

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That Ship Has Sailed
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"Lively and affectionate" Publishers Weekly


I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman


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