Saturday, October 02, 2004

The New York Times has made one of its periodic discoveries of the Web—in this case, the literary Web—with this snarky article from David Orr; I especially like this line re Poetry Daily, "Yes, there are a lot of poets, and yes, they write a lot of poems." To which this reader can only respond: Duh? I'm fascinated by the oft-expressed desire (oft-expressed by poets themselves) for poets to write less. Are these people truly overwhelmed by all the good poetry out there and feel guilty for not being able to read all it? Or does it frustrate their desire to master the corpus of contemporary writing? Or do they really just hate all poetry that isn't their own, or at least does not closely resemble their own? I'm betting on the latter.

And it looks like hatred and the ad hominem will continue to get attention from outside the poetry family while actual good writing and actual good people labor stoically on. I'm not going to repeat their names here, but if you read the article you'll notice more than a couple of betes noir given rather more attention than I think they deserve.

If I sound grumpy it's because it's my 34th birthday today. Which I'm actually pleased about, considering the alternative. (Rim shot!) Thirty-four sure sounds old to me, or rather it sounds old to the young me: when I was a teenager I thought of the mid-thirties as the peak of maturity, the high watermark (or is it high-water mark?) of adulthood. Well, I'm older than I've ever been, I'm certainly more mature than I've ever been—but "adulthood" itself looks now to be like one of those persistent myths, a state of being that is never really more than a state of becoming. At least I'm pretty sure I can no longer be accused of writing juvenalia. This must be the early stages of what I hope will be a long and productive middle period.

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