Monday, August 13, 2007


Taking Stock


My thoughts run this way: in the past few months, I've dealt with a nasty piece of reverse culture shock that may very well have left me permanently embittered toward a hometown that I already had a tenuous relationship with, and, by extension, I have to look somewhat askance at the nation that houses such a place--and will not only tolerate, but actively defend the actions of an administration that has made it a public policy to a) torture, b) spy on its own people, and c) base government employment on political affiliation rather than merit or ability. For a few years I've found myself engaged in multiple conversations defending this nation against charges that it is in serious and pretty much irreversible decline, and doing so against arguments that frankly, I found more than a little convincing. While I generally tend to defer in such matters, I will say I'm past defending it. From a personal vantage point, I find myself battling the sense of being a colonial French teacher at just about that point in history when la lengua franca was being supplanted by the universal language. The pay isn't bad, but I feel a bit of an anachronism, on several fronts. Of late, my main concern is to wrestle back my mojo as a poet, but even that's feeling somewhat difficult for the fact that so much of my work has been toward either community or online literature, and I'm feeling more than usually antisocial and technophobic. I watch the division into schools, of an art that, even were it to present a unified front, appears to most to be an antiquated mode of expression that is rarely relevant, generally ineffective, and equated, for the most part, with lace tatting. My sole consolation in this last regard is that I think it obsolete for reasons that have to do with a poorly educated public's capacity for reasoned discourse, the sound bite having supplanted substantive thinking in most realms some decades ago. What I do not understand, however, is why poets insist upon what I can only regard as glorified sissy-fights as their misguided means to promoting the arts.

A friend from the Munich days once put it to me this way, after a show: "I like poetry--I studied it, like everyone, in school, and always enjoyed it--but I hate poets."

Maybe so. Maybe that's where I need to be, as well. All I know is that I desperately need, not things to write about, but reasons to write about them.

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