Thursday, November 18, 2010


Here's a hypothetical question that comes up in workshops, talking to professors about who you're going to study with, and occasionally among poets when they've had a little too much to drink (so, always?): Yes, that poet is great, but will anyone be talking about her/him in 100 years? Is that poet a (*gasp*) minor poet?

I think the question has its problems--yes I think most of us write in part to be remembered, but I think most of us want to be remembered only by readers who were uniquely moved by what we have written. Also, historical circumstance seems to be an arbitrary measure of a poet's quality (or critical taste).

And yet, let's say you are a minor poet. You do what you do and you do it quite well. You're always getting better. Would you evolve to reach more people, or would you see that kind of evolution as unnatural, and having nothing to do with your writings' needs or interests?

In other words, would you "try" to be a major poet?

(And I think novelist or short-story writer could be substituted for poet, above...)

1 comment:

  1. I think about this and don't say it out loud. My mother thinks I will be a major poet. She thinks I will be the US Poet Laureate. She plans to accomplish this through prayer. For my part, I just live poem to poem and keep putting them out there. I feel like there's some sense of order in the universe that will reward me for my effort. Some of the rewards are bigger than others. I'll take the occasional email from a reader who really liked my stuff and feel major even if no one else agrees. I don't consider it a bad thing to reach more people. I certainly wouldn't mind it. But I don't require it. Actually, this morning I had the thought that there was some solace in knowing that no one is really listening to what I write. I felt like I could just say whatever I want, be as honest as I want because no one's listening anyway lol.


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