Saturday, September 02, 2006

The Rockrose Moon (A Serial Fiction)

Part 9

Angie and Beth have alternative sources of income, the band gigs sometimes do pay and the modeling of course does. Plus they have...well…parents.

I, on the other hand have been chosen by this stupid avocation that pays nothing but the leering affected lust of older men with no resources unless they teach. Oh to be Jane Kenyon and “discovered” in class by Donald Hall! Discovered in bed too I am sure.

Everybody says I should go for my MFA at some prestigious school where I can sleep with the right assholes to get me connected enough to get a book. How many blowjobs would it take I wonder? How much spanking?

Anyway, a few years ago still all bright eyed and believing I got excited because the amazing poet Jack Gilbert was coming to Portland. He was going to read at PSU and then teach an all day master class at Mountain Writers.

Christian and I scraped together our meager resources to pay for memberships and the workshop. We had to submit to Jack of course first but that wasn’t a worry. I picked one of my best poems. Christian is a hoarder of his best work and picked a lighter metrical poem he thought would be cheerful. Jack hated it, but that is another story.

Jack was 86 back then and losing it. He recited from memory at the reading and lost track a few times and it was painful to watch. But still you know it was the mysterious brilliant Jack who had won the Harvard Younger Poets and then went off to live in Greece with Linda and Japan to marry again and break her heart.

But now he was back and we found him in the kitchen the next morning at Mountain Writers talking to a pale hung over looking Dorrianne Laux about money. Or lack there of.

A scene I have seen, since repeated again and again between “famous” living poets when they get together. Jack told us later in that same kitchen, Christian and me, the only reason he was doing these loathsome workshops was for the money. He was broke.

Jack started off the workshop talking about meeting Ezra Pound at St. Elizabeth’s and hanging out with William Carlos Williams in the basement while his wife made dinner. I was totally blown away.

And blown away too when Jack, not knowing at that point which of the participants belonged to which poem, had one in his hand and muttered to himself outloud, “Think of the mind that wrote this poem, think of it!”

This is from a man who met Ezra Pound who was the guy who shepherded T.S. (…and the fire and the rose are one fucking) Eliot! I could feel a sense of lineage all the way down into my toes...

And he was talking about my mind and my poem.

That offhand compliment is most likely the best praise I will ever receive in the arc of my creative life…


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