It’s been a stressful couple of days. One of our good friends was in a terrible car accident, so RJ has been on the phone a lot the past 48 hours. So far, the updates have been positive.
I couldn’t have said this better myself. Thank you.
But where is this personal venom coming from against our inaugural poet and poem? Are people in the music industry bitching that Obama should have picked Patti Labelle or Faith Hill or that guy from Coldplay? Are they up in arms at the selection of Yo Yo Ma? I kinda doubt it. This grotesque pettiness goes back to poets fighting over that tiny crumb of a pie. Poets, forget the fucking pie already! I promise you, it’s stale and flavorless. If you ever get a bite, you’ll still be as empty as your are now.
As for all this nonsense about this being Poetry’s big chance — um, no it wasn’t, it wasn’t supposed to be and get over your self-centered, personal profiteering selves. Elizabeth Alexander did not go up there to be a representative of poets. She accepted an invitation, a daunting and frightening honor that I cannot conceive of having the bravery to accept. Putting oneself and one’s poem out there, knowing full well the scrutiny both you and your poem will endure, most would shirk. When Alexander took the podium, momentarily paused before she read, when she looked out at that massive (departing) crowd, I wanted nothing more that to jump into my television and give her a hug.
I heard several different poets bemoan “Oh gee, now everyone is going to think that contemporary poetry is boring.” Well I hate to break it to you, everybody already thinks that and no poem or poet, no million dollar poetry foundation or advertisement in Good Housekeeping is ever going to change general opinion. People come to poetry, not the other way around. If you want to reach more people, study filmmaking or write TV sitcom scripts. When Diane Feinstein announced that next up was a poem, 1.5 million of the 2 million audience started high stepping it out of there, before Alexander spoke a single word. If the classical music came after the swearing in, most of those same people would have left then too. More probably would have stuck around to hear Aretha, cause she’s a celebrity and she sings songs you can dance to.
I apologize for posting such a huge link, but I really love this. Click on it to check out Reb Livingston’s blog.