Cranky Old Bastard

I thought about deleting the post below. It's one of those things that makes me wonder if I'm turning into the crazy old guy who sits on his porch, waiting for the kids to walk on his lawn so that he can yell at them.

Maybe so. Heaven knows we all have our blind spots about ourselves. Just ask my ex. Or my siblings.

However (the introductory word of self-justification—you knew it was coming, didn't you?), there really has been a conversation about poetry going on for 2500+ years. To extend the metaphor, it would be extraordinarily crass to rush into a room where people are talking, shout something, and then run back out. And it'd fail to respect the topic or the conversation. That's how the thing on Helium struck me yesterday. Some of the folks in the conversation were actually quite proud of their anti-intellectualism.

Why in the world would you devote yourself to an art and yet, proudly and loudly, proclaim your ignorance of the best that has been thought and said about that art? Why? It makes no sense—and it shows a hidden but pernicious contempt for the art itself.

I'm not arguing that everyone who picks up a pen or a keyboard has to be a literary theorist. But in this day and age, there's more than enough introductory material out there that there's really no excuse. And there are poets out there who write thoughtfully and well and add to the conversation. Folks like Mathews, Hejinian, and Ashbery.

If you're going to write, you have to read. And if you're going to reflect on what and why you're writing, then you should know part of that conversation, too.

Now, get the hell off my lawn.


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