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Saturday, October 04, 2003

IN DEFENSE OF WRITING POETRY WITHOUT A DAY JOB 

for about a year now i've been circulating an advertisement with the header "POETS REFINE MONEY." it's an ad where i ask for money, yes indeed, i'm looking for a sponsor. the ad has received a lot of attention, only, not from the crazy rich folks that i KNOW are out there waiting for me to set them free of some of their cash, as i offer to do. i know they're out there waiting to read my ad, i feel it, i feel it, i feel it every morning when i wake, i feel it. someone with lots and lots and lots of dirty filthy stinking money that would do themselves a heap of joyous Karmic Cleansing to give me enough to live on for a couple of years to make some poems. every poem i'd create on their dirty filthy stinking money cleans it up a little, cleans up that stink in their bank account.

most of the mail i get from the ad is from other poets wishing me luck, curious about my progress, that sort of thing. but every once in a while i get someone ready to knuckle me on the head with a, "GET A JOB!" or, "Poets should work for a living." "Poets should suffer." yeah yeah yeah, everyone suffers whether you wish it or not.

how many poems have poets lost on the job? my last job, from which i was recently laid off from, i had to negotiate a breath, a moment. i carried a little notebook and pen in my shirt pocket, which i'd grab every once in awhile when a thought or line came to mind that needed to be scribbled down. my boss talked to me about this more than once, annoyed that i was writing on the job. when he finally heard me out about the fact that i was doing my job, and that i should be allowed a little scribble now and again so i don't lose the thought, he said, "yeah, well just make sure you scribble quick." that seemed like a small victory for me, and i didn't have to hide my real job from my bill paying job anymore. but then a few of us were laid off when a giant corporate competitor moved around the corner. there's plenty of time to scribble without hiding when there's no bill paying job to run to everyday.

some poets writing to me about the ad have been amused. or serious, like Gil Ott writing to me, "I've never had a sponsor." to which i replied, "well that's ashame Gil, you're an amazing poet and you should be able to write poems all day long if you feel like it. if i were a rich man i'd sponsor you."

and i mean it.

i mean it, and it throws some people off, because they just can't believe it at first that i really do mean it. a poet from New York just wrote me today, which has sparked this post to the blog. she told me that "that's what grants are for" for one thing. to which i replied, "i seem under-qualified for grants, in the sense that i do not have the proper degrees in creative writing, because i have no degrees in creative writing. but instead of bitching and whining about how unfair that seems, i've decided to create my own grant." she also told me that she loves her job, and that i just need to find a job i love, to which i replied, "i do have a job i love, it's writing poems. don't you get this? even a little teeny tiny bit get this?" she also told me that "this isn't the sixties, things are different these days." to which i said, "what are you talking about? it's also not the eighties, things are different from the eighties as well. it's also not 1910, it's also not 1459, or any other number prior to 2003 you feel the need to come up with. the sixties wasn't the ONLY time, and won't remain the ONLY time in history when some poets have the nerve to want to say that they want to write poems and NOT have regular jobs. believe it or not, it's always your choice of course to believe it or not. but i'm still right."

however, the thing she wrote that really pissed me off, because it was just WRONG, was her telling me that i'm selfish. that, "there are plenty of others who would like to stay home and write poems all day, don't you think this whole thing a little selfish?" to which i said, "NO, no i do not think i'm selfish! the rich people who have far more fucking money than they need are the people who are selfish! if the wealth were ever actually distributed evenly, first off, no one would starve, no one would need to steal so that they didn't starve, the prison industrial complex--which has spidered its way into every other industrial complex--would come to an end, and furthermore we'd all be a little more able to do what we feel we're alive to do. creativity wouldn't seem like such a luxury, but an absolute necessity. it is possible to change everyone's perspective on the importance of world-wide individual creative necessity! there's NEVER EVER anything SELFISH about wanting to be creative. it's ridiculous and insulting to the muses to say such a thing. YOU CALL YOURSELF A POET!? you call yourself a poet yet want others to ACTUALLY consider questioning their right to write poems!? what's wrong with you? excuse me, i really mean to say WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU!? i want you to really THINK and FEEL what it is you're saying here to me in this letter about creativity being selfish! HOW can REAL CHANGE ever happen without creativity? tell me HOW it can happen without the powers of creativity? we NEED creativity MORE THAN EVER! if you would like to apologize to me and every other person unafraid of their creativity, you may do so, and i assure you your apology will be accepted because we're just too fucking busy being creative to hold a grudge."

by the way, let's all take a look at my ad right now.

POETS REFINE MONEY
There are thousands of Americans
everyday who are looking for a safe
place to invest their money. Poets
are the best source for removing
negative charge from your wealth, and
raising the collective conscience of
the planet. You can change your
life FOREVER by sponsoring a
poet today! CAConrad is one such
American poet serious about making
poetry a lifelong quest, ready and
willing to refine your money! If
you are interested in sponsoring
this poet, call 215-563-3075, or write
CAConrad13@aol.com, you won't
believe the difference a poet will make!

okay, first of all, notice that i don't even mention myself until the last quarter, or third of the ad. why is that? because I REALLY MEAN IT when i say "poets." a poet from Arizona wrote me after she read my ad which i placed in an Arizona newspaper, saying that she thought it was a great idea, and said she wished she had thought of it. i wrote back saying, "who cares who thought of it? do it! in fact, TAKE MY AD and simply replace my name and contact information with your own. and if you get a sponsor before i do and want to share a little of the money with me, hey, i'm not going to complain about that." not that i'm trying to create some weird pyramid money making scheme here, but things are just as they are in the realm of wanting folks to share.

it's okay to want to write poems and not have a day job. go ahead and tell me i'm wrong, but you're simply too late, because i've already made up my mind, made it up for good! maybe when my sponsor finally gives me some money to live on i'll place the ad for friends for birthday gifts. we'll all read and write poems one day, free from the tyranny of this ridiculous system of jobs and careers for money! did you make up this stupid fucking system? no? well then WHY aren't you just as angry if you don't care for it? don't ask me why i'm so pissed off over here. ask yourself over there why you're NOT!

CAConrad

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