Thursday, July 9, 2009

Some of my best friends are poets . . .

. . . but that doesn't mean I want to spend the majority of my time around poets.

In the past two days this topic has come up several times. In an email last night a poet friend wrote, "I HATE WRITERS."

I was not offended. I knew exactly what she meant and often feel the same way.

Today I had lunch with Natalie Lyalin and her husband Joshua. Natalie's book, Pink and Hot Pink Habitat, was recently published by Coconut Books. As a rite of passage, all Coconut authors make a pilgrimage to Reston to meet the first Coconut author, me, Grandma Coconut. We have a lovely time together and at the end of our meeting, I pelt them with coconuts and rocks, basically chase them out of town.

Cause there can be only ONE and I am supposed to be the only poet in Reston. If you're a poet living in Reston, the last thing you want to do is get yourself on my radar cause I'll chase your ass all the way to Herndon.

Joshua asked me how I liked living in Reston. He asked me what the scene was like.

I have no idea if there's a poetry scene in Reston and I don't want to know. I know about stuff in DC. I live 20 miles outside of DC. I like it that way. I prefer having to go out of my way. I do not want to be in the middle or heart of anything.

As far as I'm concerned, I'm my own heart and center.

Rarely does a day go by that I do not correspond with poets via email or other electronic means. I attend readings and the occasional conference. Sometimes I travel to spend time with poet friends. When a poet friend comes into town, I try to connect. Some of my richest experiences have been in the presence of poets.

But if I had to be in the proximity of a poet every week, or lord forbid on a daily, regular basis, I would be a wreck. Pretty much the only times I have ever drank to excess in the past five years has been in the presence of poets. And 75% of those times have been at the dreaded A-let's never speak of it again-P, the conference nested in Satan's sphincter.

I don't want all my weekends filled with readings and literary events. I don't want to talk po-biz over the majority of my meals. I don't want to be immersed in the po-biz. I don't consider that to be a "literary" life. Or at least it's not my idea of a literary life. In fact, some poets come across to me as rather unartistic, uncreative, small-thinking beings. Bitching and moaning about who won what prize, got published where or got what job is not my idea of literary. Talking theory is not my idea of a good time (although it's certainly a big step up from moaning). Neither is having to suffer through someone's incessant anxiety about whether or not he's good or successful enough. I have my own anxieties to suffer through, thank you very much. And honestly, sometimes poetry readings can be absolute torture. Especially the readings by those poets who insist on explaining or setting up each and every poem. SHUT UP and just read the fucking poem. You're making me hate you! And your poems!

I prefer working in (relative) solitude. I'm most creative and productive by myself. Some of my best friends are poets because they don't live in Reston. I prefer long-distance correspondences with occasional in-person visitations. I prefer spending my evenings and weekends with my husband and son. Those are my kind of people. We're a tight, exclusive tribe and no, you may not join our movement.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I wrote a longer response, but decided to say a more succinct, there are a lot of poets out there who are great human beings!

  3. Jeannine, certainly.

    I never meant to imply that poets were bad people -- just that I find some (many?) to be difficult to be around for extended periods. I think I find it all too intense.

  4. The picture you of you indignantly announcing that you're the Paris Review is freaking hilarious! I admire people who are funny in their dreams -- mine are nearly always quite morose.

    I understand your point, here, I think. But honestly, my guess is that you're generalizing about a few very specific things/people/events that annoyed, angered, or hurt you. Not saying that whatever that is is necessarily blog material, but that's what would need to be explored, I would think.

    Maybe you just need a summer vacation away from poetry & poets. Nothing wrong with that.

  5. Dear Reb,
    Interesting dream in the next post! Yes, maybe you should visit the Northwest - almost every poet I met there was kind, generous, supportive - you name it, they were the kind of people you just want to be around as often as possible.
    I have noticed that all kinds of really smart folks are also really intense - even software engineers, for example, or biologists. I think, though, that I am an extrovert who needs more alone time than usual, or an introvert who likes to be with people more than usual. So some of your stress may just signal you need more time for yourself?