Tuesday, August 02, 2005
But at least I know you posted several ago Will, the one titled, "Chris McCreary, I know I know"
It took me a day to fully digest it, and I say this because I'm blown away by the direct honesty of the e-mail. Competition is something to talk about, in it's layers, and the layers that build from the layers.
On one hand it was great to see you have a full spectrum with all this, going right around to eventually understanding how high school cheated this jock. It's really nice to see this kind of honesty in print, out there, in the open.
Of course it's annoying when someone with a lower GPA gets into a school, a very good school at that, and you admit how it manifested into laughing at his failure with it all. That's a big thing to admit, and it's another thing for everyone to see it in themselves at some point and time and want to (hopefully want to) question.
Competition is something I think about a lot. What's it doing to us? Everyday kind of "doing to us."
And I'm the first to admit that I DO jump on board it by entering contests, etc., because I want money for time. But I also admit that I'm careful who I tell what I'm doing, mostly to keep the psychic waves down.
Competition almost never seems to serve without destroying elsewhere. And I'm really not being the one to do the Pollyanna dance with this, but I just want some conversation on competition, if anyone's interested besides myself.
Let me start.
This is without mentioning names, because my intention is NOT to harm others here. But I have lost friends with the little success I have had so far in poetry. It's true, and it's awful, and I feel like it could make me a paranoid person if I'm not checking myself, and checking in with others.
In short, a couple of good friends were generous in mentioning me and my work to a certain publisher, who in turn wanted to publish my book and not either of their books. They seemed pleased for me, but then cut me off. Completely cut me off. I mean, we're strangers now.
Poetry is such a little flag really, but it still holds all that carnivorous reaction, like it's Monday night football. These things at times seem primal, things we could trace to fighting over scraps of flesh in the jungle.
There has to be a way we can understand both how all this works in ourselves, and at the same time HAVE football games, HAVE poetry publications and competitions without losing our minds and our friends over it all.
How much weight must we put on our shoulders over these things?
To be perfectly honest, I've met a lot of assholes on the poetry "scene(s)" and I'm not even talking about one particular city, I'm actually talking about EVERY city I've visited. And these assholes all have one very big thing in common, and that is that they seem to be feeling like they're lacking, they seem to act like anyone else's gain is their loss. Do you know what I mean?
I'm NOT looking for a New Age hug here, I'm looking for some common understanding, some serious, honest observation, and tool building to ward off or get off such targets, and to move into and on with the better reasons we're all here doing poetry in the first place.
There might just be better perceptions of it all. I mean to say, once Anselm Berrigan said to me, "My mom said to me once that people fought at the Poetry Project because they cared."