Thursday, February 23, 2012

that mighty noun

could be the name of a band. it refers instead to the word -- poet. no caps. no especial nothing. but for i remember an interview charlie rose did with seamus heaney right after the irish bard won the nobel. during that interview heaney said something like, 'that noun is might, and it should be scaresome.' i took it to mean that heaney considers the art of poetry a form of magic and that poets are a kind of shaman.

which is and is not bullshit. still, i'd read a few interviews and blog posts by my brethren who want to delimit that mighty noun and confess to being uncomfortable with being called, yep, a poet. why should that be? i can't answer for those who shy away from that mighty noun. i am puzzled by the humility.

i'm all for being humble. poetry does not begin or end with one or a few poets. i don't believe in that nostrum that many are called and few are chosen. really? many are called and few are chosen? for what, pray tell. immortality? okay, maybe one or two of you, or me, will be remembered after our deaths. but don't hold your breath. chances are will be as quickly forgotten as a 1980s one-hit wonder.

if we are even that lucky. i consider myself very fortunate because i can read and write and i can devote my life to my obsessions. i know what i want to do with my life. not many people do. that is very lucky. and tho i am not a religious man i think that a life in poetry is a life of devotion. that quickens my senses and gets my head aswirling.

i was watching via youtube an interview with jose kozer recently where kozer makes the claim for poetry where the person who gives herself to poetry will have a wonderful life. i believe him. i believe in poetry. i believe in poetry providing for a fully-lived life. that is wonderful.

so the act of reading and writing poetry makes one a poet. it does. we need more poets in this world. i believe that. we don't argue the against the noun guitarist for someone who plays guitar. what do we call a person who is in the act of playing baseball but a baseball player. same with sculpture, painter, husband, mother, father, wife, partner etc etc. not that i'm big on labels. i am big on names. my name. your name. sure stay humble. even great poets didn't know they would be remembered as great when they died. all mandesltam knew was that he was a poet when he was alive. that's one example of poet. the other is rod mckuen. if you asked, rod who? i rest my case. he's a poet too.


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