Friday, September 24, 2010

A Poet in New York: more of my complaints

If a poet isn't famous is she simply shouting into the nameless void? I overheard similar, recently, and herein respond, with a little vegeance, I admit.

First of all, the void isn't nameless. Its name is Nameless Void. Its New Yorker and various catalog subscriptions are mailed to Nameless Void, Void, Nameless NL 00000.

Second, stop insulting me! My mission as a poet is to shout into the nameless void, into the howling light and darkness. Believe it or not (oh go ahead and believe), the void is my intended audience, my special reader. I'm a birthright outsider; I never had access to dreams of universal love and a presence on the best seller list. I would suggest that when two of my professors at my graduate school told me to my face, "I'm not paid to talk to you," I was officially recertified as outsider.

I love the void because it is populated by the individual, not the self-imagined hip groupee (which is different from groupie). Only individuals are allowed me.

By way of example, I attended a reading at a major poetry institution last year, introduced myself to the director, presented her with my book, and asked he/she consider me for one of their many readings. That was around 10 p.m.

The next morning she/he emailed me s/he'd passed my book onto the lesser coordinator who I then emailed. S/He never responded. When I (mildly I thought) complained, they was appalled and stayed appalled. I went to support the director at one of her readings (I was over the whole incident) she virtually took a step back. I tried to shake her hand and she gave me a limp fish.

She didn't read my book overnight. She simply passed it on. What kind of lives do people like her live, that one complaint makes them so upset?  Jeeze, I come from the land of alcoholic fights, over forty years of resultant poor health, a mother who choose a thirty-year love affair (by way of Christian Science) with cancer, undiagnosed depressions and more.  One freaking little insult. Come on, mama.

She also passed on her version of my untidy unwillingness to be overlooked to one of her friends, who, on hearing me read realized I was good. A week later I ran into the coordinator who looked at me in a whole new way.

I'm frustrated; I am not looking for friendship. I am looking for venues to read. I am looking for my people, in the void, willing to be in the presence of an outsider.

(The image: yes, I want to touch the void and you in it.)

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