Sunday, August 07, 2005

Poet Push Poet, or Poet Eat Poet? 

By championing Corso, Ginsberg was doing more than being a magnanimous friend or a zen-patient buddhist.

He believed, he believed, he believed- in Gregory Corso. He believed in the genius of Gregory Corso. He believed that Corso was writing great poems. He believed it was important that the world hear his work.

In light of the competition discussion, I've met more and more poets recently who speak antithetically to this aspect of the Ginsberg spirit, by insisting that it's every writer's own responsibility to draw attention to their own work. It's based on a feeling that each poet has to work too hard to get themselves noticed to waste time pushing others who may be too lazy, crazy or otherwise engaged to do it themselves. It's my sense that poets' opinions about this directly relate to their perception of writing communities, or their imagined independence from such configurations. Some are disenchanted with their community, & some simply view them as a bald networking vehicles.

Sure, this is nothing new. But what's new for me is the pronouncement of this ethic in oppositional writing communities. I recognize there's a middle-ground here, but in its harshest interpretation, the microcapital gene could be engaged in engineering collective structures of experimental poets. The sickness of course, is that by applying the rules of late-late capitalism to poetry- you still make no money.

I bring this up not as a boo-hoo lament, or a glorification of the way things used to be. There are more young writing communities in more parts of the country that are sharing/publishing work they believe in than ever before. Poetry communities are more diverse in class/race/gender than ever before, & opportunites to share work (thanks to the internet) has never been more capable of extending communities.

I'm just fascinated with the insistence that everyone is out- or in it, for themselves. And I appreciate the honesty, when it is honest.

- Frank Sherlock

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