Monday, February 22, 2010

Being set straight yet again about Los Angeles poetry's desire to keep the herd thinned.

So the Important poet and I have been continuing to e-mail and, among other things, I was reminded that my standards for which poets should get features (a mixture of various types--and sometimes skill levels) aren't correct ones. I would allow too much--the horror, the horror--mediocrity to be put on display.

Along with that axiom, I was reminded that if poets aren't able to get features at venues where, say, Red Hen Press authors, Pushcart Prize winners and RATTLE (or other literary magazine) editors are favored (including most of the remaining "coffeehouse" readings), then it means the poets should write "better."

I know I'm showing my stupidity/naivete/lack of undertanding again, but it seems to me that a big, diverse city like Los Angeles ought to have a more diverse small-reading scene than it does.

But chasing prestige (or being in the presence of it) is paramount with a lot of people now.

And so the poetry scene in Los Angeles will continue to be exclusive and secretsecret--with the late Hyperpoets reading at Venice's Rose Cafe being the template for the high-toned, often too-dry and too-self-consciously "I'm writing TRUE poetry, as any fool can see" artistic desert.

1 comment:

  1. Red Hen Press- LOL the once editor of that elite publication - Kate Gale is a terrible poet - a real snoozer - but you are bumping against the formidable topic 'The Arts in America'
    The American culture cares about art as much as it cares about education. Look at the public funding in these areas compare to say defense or border patrol.
    It should not suprise anybody that the pursuit of poetry or any other art is driven by the genie of the current American soul - money.
    So relax, Terry. It's going to need a sea change which I see coming - with the economy tanking the way it has.
    I have been acknowledged as a very good poet by some people I respect- but am I accepted by any major publisher? - Hell no. Does that bother me?
    Not really - I don't write poetry to get popularity or acceptance and certainly not to make a living. One of the greatest 20th century poets - Arthur Rimbaud - could have cared less and stopped writing at the tender age of 20. If your goal is publication -take an MFA, suck up to the gatekeepers and you'll find yourself published in something. Somehow I don't think you will be satisfied with this Faustian trade off.