Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Famous Poets

I didn't sound off about what Silliman commented on regarding Bill Knott's recent statement about how old, failed poets should be taken out and shot. It seems like sour grapes to me. How someone who's books sell for hundreds of dollars (whether anyone is buying them is another matter) could be considered a "failure" is interesting. Knott's been published by FSG, as well. FSG is a huge name in publishing, so that would be indicative of a certain level of success in my opinion. Poets simply do not attain a celebrity status in mainstream society, but who's comparing and why? Poetry is marginalized, but I think that's what has preserved its credibility. Those writing poetry obviously aren't in it for the money. Other types of success arise because of one's skill at writing poetry, but success in conventional terms isn't attained by writing poetry.

"But if you think that beyond a certain point, the 'failed poets' should be taken out & shot, Knott’s modest proposal, there is something seriously wrong. I feel about failed poets the way Larry Fagin & C.A. Conrad feel about “neglectorinos” or, to use one term I’ve employed in the past, “the disappeared.” That disappearance – usually from print first – is invariably tragic. It robs me of my heritage as a poet that I can’t find the work, say, of Gail Dusenbery on the Web. I’ve already been robbed no doubt of many good poems by Weldon Kees, Lew Welch or Dan Davidson because they acted on an impulse not so different from Knott’s."

-Ron Silliman

1 comment:

Bassoon said...

I once kicked an old, failed poet
He deserved it
Because he reached for the postcard
The postcard that read Howdy from Oklahoma
It was my postcard, the bastard
I reached first
(actually, his was a reacharound and we know that reacharounds are inappropriate forms of behavior)

So I kicked him in the ribs
And then in the ego
as he spilled to the floor
He’s probably at home now
Writing a poem or eating a sandwich

And now I’m thinking about Oklahoma
The land where you drink whiskey from a boot
And everyone’s fixin’ to do something
Something that involves dust and cowboy hats

But he learned his lesson, the bastard