Nashville. I drink endless cups of coffee and read poetry and yes, listen to country. Earlier, H. was experimenting with an old Casio keyboard. Now, P. is downstairs learning songs to play on his guitar, at a wedding. The wedding is tomorrow. He learns fast. Harper is delighted by her grandparents’ undivided attention. They don’t seem to mind all the musical experimentation. Last night, she saw fireflies for the first time. I like feeling over-caffeinated while I listen to fragments of songs. But I should not be reading poetry. I should not. So much else to do.
Why poetry, and why now?
A new friend’s brother was in a car accident and is in the hospital. We all feel wretched and helpless. But that is someone else’s terrible pain. A car accident. A wedding. Another friend’s divorce. The only answer is Art? Nope. That’s a cliché. That’s a cheater’s answer.
I read poetry in bursts, with great hunger. I read poetry and I think: I should try writing poetry! And then I think: Right, because what I need is another writing project?!?! Another even-harder soul-wrenching time-consuming writing project that does not pay?!?!
Of course that kick, that feeling that there is no use-value to it, that’s part of the answer. I want art for art’s sake now goddamit because I am feeling low on use-value, and I would rather feel like a poet. (That, and it just feels so good.)
The New York Times reported that David Ferry won the “World’s Biggest Poetry Award.” Then they printed this retraction online:
A report in the ‘Arts, Briefly’ column on Monday, about the $100,000 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize for lifetime achievement, erroneously attributed a distinction to the award. At least one other poetry honor, the Kingsley Tufts Award from Claremont Graduate University, carries the same financial reward; the Lilly Prize is neither ‘the largest’ nor ‘the biggest’ poetry award.
Note the correct use of the semi-colon. That is a semi-colon dripping with irony. It implies that the Ruth Lilly award, while not bigger than the Kingsley Tufts, is better known and more prestigious.
Thus, the Co-Biggest Poetry Awards are worth one hundred grand. The World’s Baddest Ass Poetry Award is then worth roughly one percent of what Jeffrey Immelt, the CEO of General Electric, made in a year when he did not accept a “bonus” because his company’s profits were going down. He made $9.89 million in 2009. Being the baddest-ass poet in the world is worth — on the market — about one percent of being an okay CEO.
According to Reuters, GE stock subsequently went up. Immelt took a bonus. He is now on some kind of national advisory council, “in an effort to head off criticism that the administration is out of step with the concerns of corporate America.”
Even if I am not a poet, I feel sure that Immelt does not represent my concerns. I would like to sit on a national advisory council to make sure that America is not out of step with my concerns. The concerns of poetic America.
Listen up, Mister Obama. Because our concerns are legion.
First off, here is one from a lovely short story that a friend wanted me to read:
And so to sate the ever-starving entropic universe, we must feed it human hearts.