Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Kate Gale's brutal honesty about how poetry business gets done in SoCal.

Excerpt from the above article by Ms. Gale with the "brutal honesty" portions highlighted by me:

What seemed exciting, quickly became daunting. Los Angeles is home to many talented poets. There's a difference between winning a prize and receiving a job as a city's laureate. I'm on the Claremont Graduate University Kingsley Tufts Committee and there, we are looking for a winning book. The poet doesn't have to be ready for civic engagements and many levels of education and entertainment over two years. We look for a book that blows our socks off by an author with a significant body of work.
Here we had to consider not only the poet's body of work, but also his or her willingness to work for poetry over a two year period, a job that involves getting along with people. That's not an easy task for many poets who are often wildly uncensored or tragically introverted while pathologically paranoid, and although unwilling to work with others, they're convinced that not being invited to the party is everyone else's fault.
For a poet's work to matter, it has to resonate for a large group of people and be part of the cultural conversation. In other words, they've written something we can all argue about. Working at a level of excellence, being part of the critical dialogue and being someone who has given back to the literary community, that's what great poets do. And not just teaching. You get paid for teaching, and if you have tenure, you're paid well. I'm interested in people who mentor students, teach workshops, build writing programs, and give to cultural institutions that do the same. The city needs someone who writes at a level of excellence and has generosity of spirit. A dose of sanity wouldn't hurt either.

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