Tuesday, January 01, 2008

last night was thinking of an elderly local poet, janet carncross chandler, who passed away i think more than ten years ago. i didn't know her well, but i recall a lovely evening spent chatting with her during a group reading that i participated in when i was i think 21 or so and still a very wet, goofy guy. i can't recall but i think our group, which included catalin kaser, either then or just a bit later called itself THE BEATRICE COLLECTIVE.

when it was my turn to read i think i pissed my pants i was so nervous. i apologized profusely for not having my poems typed up and being an overall wreck. when it was over i could feel the sweat dripping off my forehead and onto my glasses. i returned to my seat next to janet who offered a bit of encouragement and this one piece of advice:

never apologize for your work.

i try to remember that even when i think my poems suck. who knows what anyhow, and who cares. it is the life of the work, and the work of life that matters. in a more general phrase: there is only one you and that you is not replaceable. let the life of poetry be as it is lived. without rehearsals. or self-reproach. hardly a livable ideal. what is a writer but a collection of neuroses and self-doubt. but janet's advice struck me as being kind of punk rock. no need to complain, explain or apologize. after the first death there is no other.


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