Sunday, December 24, 2006

Sigh: No more third-rate poetry

Thanks to those of you who have politely stuck around through this period of third-rate poetry saturation. Though this blog publishes on many topics, I dare say it can't be all genres. A few of you come here for anything but third-rate poetry or translation of first-rate poetry, so I have moved the poetry to a new site:

If you're interested in following my third-rate poetry, exchanging with me, seeing perhaps commenting on my translations, then you can easily go to that site and register for email alerts. I hereby free the rest of you of my third-rate poetry (though I may occasionally announce some special third-rate poetry event). Here is the explanation and Welcome to that new site:

Why am I here? Why are you here? Of course we don't really know.
But my profile to the right gives you a decidedly un-cosmological shot at explanation about why I think I'm here (you're free to try the same).

My harshest critics, though somewhat insightful, have pointed out the oddity that I've actually registered four blogs, though I'm only heavily active on two. It is telling of a person though. Let me just say, though, that "everything but the kitchen sink" blogs/sites may not be very pleasant to read. This is an age of narrowcasting. People want to customize and nichefy. So it is with blogs. One of my sites is broader, covering vast terrains of media, culture, and politics, and yet, it didn't really comfortably house my third-rate poetry. It was time to find a home for it somewhere else. There's the rationale, which no doubt works in tandem with the mysteries of the unconscious.

The volatile mix of life's demands and expectations and my own ill-considered actions brought me here, a third-rate poet by default. I was always impressed by the story of how the precociously Leviathan intellect John Stuart Mill, having learned Latin, Greek, and algebra by age eight, all the classics of history, much philosophy, and political economy by age 13, suffered a mental breakdown at age 21. In his Autobiography, he claims that nothing could comfort but the poems of William Wordsworth, his Lyrical Ballads. Like Mill, I have always turned to poetry in times of crisis, at least in moments when I could bring myself to read at all. I have also written some poetry in times of non-crisis over the years. I used to think that poetry was for me, as it was for Keats and Shelley, a time of youthful productivity that would blaze magnificently, then take its exit like the locust that sings short-lived in summer. But now I understand why some feel compelled to write across their lives, however so short or long.

Honestly, millions of people consider themselves "writers" and "poets," and good for them if writing makes them feel better. On the other hand, I don't believe all things are equal (though it's true that standards are culturally constructed--Rimbaud is not good poetry from the point of view of the courtly poets two hundred years before him). I don't pretend to be a first-rate poet, though writing does take practice. Much of this material will be constantly revised.

In addition, every Western monopolizer of world resources and his dog has a blog these days (indeed, I'm thinking of giving our dog M her own blog) . Most aren't seen or heard, sad trees falling into deafening inexistence, while others are out-of-control egos, substituting for unresolved inadequate parental love and childhood recognition traumas, resulting in obsessions with statcounters, hits, being seen, comments, and strategies to increase traffic on their sites: "Look at me! Please, will you pay attention! I exist! I'm smart! I'm beautiful! I'm loveable! Please say something nice about me (or go away)!" Sometimes the sites are little more than clubs of backscratchers, cyber-group therapy, criticism necessarily being expelled from a discourse of eternal positive regard. Networks are built and can be good or bad for mental health, since many people are afraid to explore their demons and so spend life bouncing around from one unconscious fix to another. Sometimes sites are little more than boring, poorly written, intellectually and stylistically arid diaries and effusions of "I": "I went to the park. I took a runny dump. I saw Cameron Diaz naked on a beach in San Torini. It was cool." Sometimes they are shallow but cleverly executed prose, period. And people like Harlequin romances and E entertainment as much as Virginia Wolf.

I'm sure this blog runs all those risks and will fall into some of those boxes, for some readers. Feel free to let me know if you think I'm doing exactly what I want to avoid. I'm surely not going to be the one to point it out to myself. I don't believe in self-made man bullshit. People change, with great effort and will, in dialog with others. I have a friend who told me she hates blogs. She finds them pathetic cries for attention and confessions about matters that should be private--it's the Clinton-Lewinsky phenomenon that people gobble up like pizza samples in the supermarket. She also thinks people are doing the same thing when they dress in ways that call attention to themselves. But if someone has something to say, they must do something to get attention. It's true writing on the internet at all requires some ego, some desire to share and be recognized, even if we don't really know why or what we want in the act of recognition itself. Perhaps that desire is worth the writer's scrutiny?

The poetry here is often that genre whose authors are said to "take themselves too seriously." Not everything written here is bleak, dark, morose, and tumultuous. It is a mix, but you'll see my view has a hearty dose of Baudelaire's spleen. I do have acid reflux. Perhaps, in the end, I bear more darkness than light. And yet I laugh, here and elsewhere. I love. Above all else, I make mistakes, try to learn from them on a life journey toward the man I've meant and mean to be. Some see it as romantic folly. So be it.

There will also be an ongoing series of poems about Paris, where I currently dwell.
I'm mainly speaking to other third-rate poets, those who take comfort and interest in third-rate poetry, and first-rate poets who feel better about themselves by comparing their work to that of third-rate poets.

Perhaps you're a third-rate poet, too? Or you gain comfort from third-rate poetry,too? I will be sharing my works in progress, which will also include translations of French first-rate poetry (eg. Francois Villon, Paul Verlaine, Arthur Rimbaud, Charles Baudelaire,etc.). Perhaps you'd like to exchange comments and your poetry with me? This is not a gated community. It is hopelessly quaint: the front door is always unlocked, and I am usually on the porch, playing guitar or accordian, singing, weeping, thinking, laughing with a friend. Don't be shy.
j (p.s. My most recent entries are "Contemporary free men and women," "December, 1943," and "Trustworthy maps")

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