Monday, August 21, 2006

The Rockrose Moon (A Serial Fiction)

Part IV
“We like our poets better when they are dead—especially our women poets…” Says Erica Jong in her new memoir that I am enjoying even though it got slammed on Powells. I got it at the library.

I’m not saying it is a good book, the letter to Sylvia Plath is embarrassingly bad but you know the thing is Jong is a poet. She’s got the goods.

Anne Sexton, the Anne Sexton said to her, “You have the gift—and with it comes responsibility—you mustn’t neglect or be mean to that gift—you must let it do its work. It has more rights than the ego that wants approval.”

Well that is the core of all the trouble in contemporary poetry now isn’t it? The collective ego is so huge and so grasping and we all want approval so desperately we choke and never say bad things about anybody even though inside we feel we are being flayed alive.

Jong talks about how Plath wrote her poems outloud. Well, yeah! Have you ever read a Plath poem outloud? I have, more than once and there is just flat out right on the edge guts and risk taking in those poems!

Try it sometime. Get some black leather boots and find an audience and stand there and read “Daddy” to a mixed group and see if it doesn’t change you forever. She’s got the beat!

Rebecca Wolff, the publisher of “Fence” magazine says, "This is one of the things that makes this little unspoken-word poetry world so compelling to those of us who are stuck inside of it: It truly is arcane… It’s a secret-magic-invisible world.”

You know what that is? It is a world for cowering wuss want to be, no talent, no discipline, I need to make six figures teaching poor hapless suckers that will never publish a thing that has meaning and screw everything in sight if you enjoy that kind of thing total and complete wimps. They have it scoped out.

How about we take this crazy woman, make her our idol and say that what she does is poetry and then we’ll get all the teaching jobs in the country and we’ll make sure no one who has guts and talent and a unique voice ever gets published again.

We have a disciple of the IOWA School teaching now at PSU, (her mother is an absolute delight) that is so afraid of the idea of reading her work to an unpredictable audience that I have seen her stand behind a post and tremble when watching one of her students attempt it.

Plath didn’t get published in The New Yorker until she was dead. Unlike our current Crazy Lady Poetry Queen, Jorie Graham, Plath actually could write.

I do have to say one thing about Graham though, she is a damn good anorexic!

So is Glück. When I saw her at Poetry Downtown a few years ago I had a slip so bad, I didn’t eat for days. (Eating disorders are contagious after all.)

Get a clue! It takes everything one is, from the fingers to the toes, all the ugly inside of us to write great poems. If you don’t have the guts get out of the game and leave us some frickin space to breathe.

I have to go eat dinner now. I promised myself I would.


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