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December 10, 2004



"Are you a Poet when you're washing the dishes? When you're building a bookshelf or taking out the trash? When you're picking your teeth? "

--I am! And it does make me insane!

Tim Peterson

I apologize, Noah, I should have been more clear...

I'm definitely a Poet when I'm watering the plants, vacuuming, and cleaning the toilet, but not when I'm taking out the trash, washing the dishes, or picking my teeth.


Also, I was thinking about an academic environment in which being a specialist in poetry is not embarrassing at all, but being a poet is. That is, to cross the line from a studier to a producer of texts that might be studied produces a sense of discomfort.


I don't think that's what I'm talking about...somehow it seems too easy to go there as a next step. I'm not sure I understand that distinction anyway though, because what poet doesn't study his or her own texts? Unless of course, we're talking about Steve Martin's scenario that the Mona Lisa was actually painted in one stroke (brushstroke sound -- "How's this?")

I think I'm talking about the fact that it seems increasingly harder to think of oneself as a Poet with a capital P, when poetry itself feels increasingly like such a hoax. Across the board, I mean: indie, academic, writing workshops, etc.

I'm also talking just generally about narcissism/egotism vs. generosity or awareness of others. Some "Poets" seem to want to constantly create hierarchies in which they are better than other Poets, as if there were some Darwinian competition to be The Great Poet...this is just as academic, to me (see Harold Bloom), as the opposite scenario that you posit. It presumes that poets are like Important Greek Gods eternally locked in some kind of agon on behalf of the rest of society. How ridiculous. Not only is the "academic" question essentially a red herring in this sense, but Poets apparently need no extra encouragement from academics to go around acting this way entirely of their own accord.

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