Wednesday, March 07, 2007

To Borrow an Idea from Jill Essbaum and Pervert it into Something of My Own

We're all band geeks. Every poet. From the handful of poets with six-figure book deals to the tenure-tracked to the award-winning to the adjunct to the tug-job-giving to the diyer to the never-been-published. Too many people are focused on who gets to stand in front waving the stick. Nobody else really cares (probably cause they have no idea how often band geeks get laid) which must be why it's so important to the band geeks. I remember in high school all the band geeks passionately bitching over who was gonna be "drum major." I think that's what it was called, I don't remember -- cause I didn't fucking care. I was like, just get your asses on the field during half-time and entertain me, you zit-faced monkeys.

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At 6:30 PM, Blogger Glenn Ingersoll said...

I look forward to the next post labeled, "zit-faced monkeys".

At 6:31 PM, Blogger Jill said...

im sorry, but did you say 'tongue job'???


At 11:31 AM, Blogger Don said...

Is it wrong to have ambition to be in front of the band, to be the drum major? I don't see why it's bad to have the desire/drive to be the best. (People will argue that the "best" is subjective, but within each genre, even the avant garde, there are standards). If it's seen as careerism to work hard on both writing and publishing, so be it.
On the other hand, I think starting No Tell Motel and other presses is a good idea -- it's part of that ambition, in my mind, to define something worth reading and caring about.

At 2:07 PM, Blogger Reb said...

Don, I don't think there's anything wrong with having that ambition. Everyone has some sort of ambitions. I think it has a lot of potential to be blinding and consuming -- that's all.

At 3:44 PM, Blogger Don said...

I agree that blinding ambition can be bad for a person -- you ignore the trip, the scenery, the people, the enjoyment, while focusing completely on the destination. Still, sometimes I fear (or think) blinding ambition may be necessary for some goals, and even then it might not be enough. In which case, the question is whether it's worth it (that depends on the person).

At 6:37 PM, Blogger Reb said...

I equate blind, at-all-costs ambition to destruction -- which I suppose if one's goal is something akin to raping and pillaging -- it's necessary.

I have no fancy facts or philosophies to back up what I just said -- it's just what I believe.

At 7:11 PM, Blogger Don said...

This topic is interesting because years ago I had a similar discussion with a writing teacher I had in grad school (David Foster Wallace). I brought up the scenario of being a writer who pursued success at all costs, not being true to himself or herself and pursuing wealth/fame regardless of the damage to himself or herself. Wallace said that this was similar to addiction; the person would continue trying to get more and more success but it wouldn't be enough. The person would be empty inside, feeding on himself or herself. It was ultimately self-destructive. So, this would agree with your view.
On the other hand, we're not talking about "raping and pillaging"; it's literary competition, not physically harming bodies. I felt that this comparison was pretty outrageous. I also think blinding ambition may have saved some poets' lives, who lived longer than they would've because of it (Anne Sexton as an example; she would've killed herself sooner without poetic ambition). If you're already prone to addiction or self-destructive behavior, there are worse kinds than blind poetic ambition, which at least gives one something tangible to strive toward. And though it might potentially be damaging emotionally or socially, I can't see any physical wounds resulting from it.

At 7:43 PM, Blogger Reb said...

I didn't mean to come across that I thought blind ambition in poetry was raping and pillaging actual people -- at least not in the literal sense, but perhaps towards the work. And I don't mean to imply ambition is bad, because it's not. Everyone has ambitions.

This is going in a different direction that I intended. My original post was poking fun at what it means to be a "culturally elite poet" -- if such a thing exists, I'm not even positive it does. The "drum major" title -- with all the prestige within the tight, small circle it may create and with it always come jealousies and hatreds and unpleasantness -- it doesn't mean that much outside the circle -- and we all have to step out that circle sometimes, for many of us, it's most of the time -- so why is that the "prize"? Is it really a prize? If we don't get that prize, what exactly are we really missing out on? We're not missing out on poetry or our ambition for our poems -- that can't be given or taken away.

The talk on Josh's blog about two camps within poetry is bizarre. I don't agree and think it's trying to force divisions that aren't really there. That was the point I was originally trying to make.

At 9:03 PM, Blogger AB said...

You know, I am a poetry geek. I was even a poetry geek in high school. I started a poetry club.

I'm all like "dance monkeys" but I really mean dance dead monkeys. And they actually appear to dance. Then I expect living poets to hook tug boats up to the dead poets and hall them onto the football field. yikes.



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