Friday, August 17, 2007

Time more time for Poetry

Today driving to work (it takes about an hour) I was listening to Francine Prose talking about Novels and writing on the Bob Edward's Show. It was nice to hear that someone is making money from their creativity.

I usually get up very early, like 330 AM I sit and breathe then I eat breakfast, I write, and then I work out . I am at my desk at 7 AM for work.

I have always been jealous of MFAer Pro Poets because they get so much free time. It is true that because I work in Business (I am Director of Events for a Business Publisher) I make allot more money than they do but time is always missing. I talked once to Ron Silliman about this he is another poet/business person and he feels that being outside of Po-Biz gives him more freedom I am not always sure that this is true.

I am always stealing time- like I am right now blogging- on airplanes or in hotel rooms or early in the morning to work on poetry or essays to remain engaged with the poetic and to listen for the still small voice and to create good work.

Mark Tardi always says that 'in the end the work will stand up or it wont. " I am not so sure about that? So many poets have either family money or academic insider status that their work is published more readily than work of others.

There is allot of great poetry out there but having the time to do the political work of po biz helps so much. How else does anyone explain Fence? A perfect example of the poetic dilettante magazine that caters to this world of MFAers, Pro-Poets and Biz Poets who are good at playing the game. Rebecca Wolf is a great marketer and I wish my company would hire her but as a poet/publisher not so much.

So time remains a constraint. I worked for my Dad for three years and I had allot more time to do stuff but most of it was the kind of Po Biz political stuff that really has nothing to do with poetry and much more to do with Socializing- I have ended this trend in my life. In the end I look at poets with whom I am friends who are committed to the Work of poetry and wonder why they are not recognized as readily and I wonder if the work really matters?

It is funny too because now that I own a book press people are NICER than before I get readings more easily and I get called for stuff but I doubt it is because of the WORK. In the end I wonder if those of us with less time on our hands are any less productive than the MFAer Pro Poets?

The Poet it seems in Capital Letters is dying. I look at the generation before me, Duncan, Notley, Silliman, Bernstein, and the Generation before that, Creeley, Olson, Waldman, and I wonder do any of us measure up to them? Find me a poet who is as good as Alice Notley? Or are we all made up phenomenons coming from Blogs and Websites? Who has the range of great poets from America's past, not even talking about non American poets who blow away our poetry easily.

I know who I like, Peter Gizzi is a master, Liz Willis too, Lisa Jarnot makes me proud to have been born in 1967, Chris Glomski makes me proud to have gone to Iowa with him at the same time even though we were not friends then, is their any poet more real than Joe Ahearn, Joshua Clover is a Villagevoiceesque poet but you know I cannot put his books down and I have come after much vomiting to love Joyelle Mc Sweeney's verseplay. I know that I have come to enjoy Simone Muench's tight lines and Mark Tardi's darkness-

Time- Time- Time

- if I only had more of it--- maybe I could get up at 2 AM??


Providence said...


Sorry I'll have to miss the Series A reading tonight. Found out about it far too late... But I thought I'd let you know that I was inspired enough by your irascibility to post a sort-of reply at, so check it out.

Mark said...

Ray and Patrick,

While I'm flattered to be included in the Blogsphere, I'd appreciate that my remarks in conversation make some vague attempt at accuracy. Patrick, the "Enlightment genius" comment is preposterous by itself -- nevermind the issues of context.

Ray, you need to work on *listening* more closely.

My remarks about "the working standing up" has more to do with *you* needing to pay more attention to your writing -- and *not* be so fixated on asinine social posterings amongst. Poets?!

Can we just get a grip here folks? A little perspective?

Providence said...


I made an attempt to avoid insinuating your remarks into my own, by way of contextualizing them in Ray's remarks. My apologies if I did so poorly. But I believe it's clear that I am responding to Ray's discussion, upon whom the onus falls, I would hope.

I'm not sure how you're reading my use of the phrase "Enlightenment genius" (as elliptical as it was). But I could call the kettle black here by saying that the comment is explicitly made in the context of Ray's remarks and my other comments. It appears at least disingenuous on your part to call the comment "preposterous by itself" when it was not made "by itself."

Your points re: listening, perspective, and even "grip" sound important. I'd love to discuss them, and thought I was, in some way, but attempting to initiate a blog-centric discussion of the contemporary context of poetic production. No harm intended. But if you're serious about getting some perspective, please do refrain from calling your interlocutors' concerns "asinine."

Of course, I'm aware that I have limited context for judging Ray's use of your remarks. This is largely why I do not judge it. And this is largely because Ray and I do not seem to have ample leisure time (to get back to the topic at hand) for meeting up and chatting about such matters.

sandrasimonds said...

"I have always been jealous of MFAer Pro Poets because they get so much free time. It is true that because I work in Business (I am Director of Events for a Business Publisher) I make allot more money than they do but time is always missing."

I guess you made your choice?

Mark said...


I don't have your email or any other contact information for you, so I'm backchanneling here. The bulk of my response was directed at Ray -- and Ray well knows that I think he can worry about some things I find foolish (or "asinine"), especially when there are remarkably productive things happening initiated by people like Ray and a host of others. So the "asinine" comment wasn't aimed at you or your discussion of poetic production, and I apologize for the lack of clarity on my part.

The issues of time, its relationship to poetic production, and financial components to it all are interesting, complex and in some ways important, of course. I think you and Josh Corey and Peter O'Leary have made some strong points over the past week or so, and I was happy to read about them today. (The Lilly/Poetry Foundation issue is something I'd really like to talk with more poets about at some point -- I'm amazed by what is ignored in virtually every conversation or comment I've ever read or heard about it.)

Also, I do appreciate your reply to my comments earlier and I think we're simply misunderstanding each other. Hopefully we can talk about it more at some other time, since I really don't engage much in blogging. I'm not sure what leisure time is, but in any case, I hope we can find some time to talk over coffee or something before too long.

Again, my apologies if I was a bit too snarky. Ray's a White Sox fan, so he's wired to be chronically dissatisfied; I'm a Cubs fan, so I'm inclined to look for positive momentum, sometimes foolishly I'll admit. And there are a number of very good things going on in Chicago poetically speaking these days -- and Ray has been a significant contributor to that. So him being jealous of some MFA folks is silly (as best as I can tell). That's one of the things I meant about having some perspective.

Sarah said...

As sandrasimonds said, a choice was made. And frankly, I'm not sure one leaves more time than the other. I know that I turned down lucrative jobs--for a variety of reasons, including long hours--but I also know those same jobs would allow me to have a vacation; to save money. In other words, they would have allowed me to buy time.

As it is (as an MFA-Poet), even while doing my (funded) MFA, I worked anywhere from 1-5 contract jobs on the side just to pay rent. After my MFA, things were, and are, much the same. And this is to say they are as they always have been: poetry is an aside. (And yes, M. there have been exceptions for health reasons--but it is not as though I was writing then.)

As for connections: do I have some as a result of my education? A few. Less than one would think and no more than anyone who is actively involved in writing.

And, importantly, it is not as though the MFA dropped out of the sky--like any other educational or career choice--I had to work very hard to get there and work very hard to complete it (and then work very hard to leverage it in any way).

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