Last night, I was at a publication reading in the San Fernando Valley.
And the publisher of the anthology introduced me as "a burr under the saddle of L.A. poetry."
Perhaps he didn't think that was all that bad a description.
But it was the second time he's used that phrase to introduce me. And I guess there's no choice but to submit and accept this as sort-of-inevitable--when I earn a place in a local/regional/national anthology and am a part of a publication reading.
What is a burr under a saddle of a group/institution/community?
To most people, it's something to be removed because it's bothersome/massively irritating.
And, in the past, when I've offered unpopular opinions, complained about the shrinkage-in-size of the poetry community, wondered aloud about poor treatment of certain poets, or made the mistake of facing certain people head-on, people have tried to remove me.
Sometimes, it's by comparing me to fecal matter or implying I'm a wifebeater.
Other times, it's by saying that my death can't come soon enough.
And then, there's the tool of anonymous attack websites.
Once in a while, some people will have my back. But, usually, there's silence.
In the case of the person who said my death couldn't come soon enough, he taught MFA aspirants at a local college and co-hosted a popular literary reading. So it was easy for many to choose whose side they wanted to be on.
Yesterday, Pete Seeger died.
I wonder how many people eulogizing him (particularly for standing up to the House Un-American Activities Committee in the 1950s) fully grasp the concept that unpopular speech is equally worthy of support and protection as the popular variety.