Three transcripts followed by 17 grabs [click here to go directly to the originals].
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I love your post. I found it interesting that your poet-coming-of-age story included no human beings, except for seeing Ginsberg perform, and a vague mention of vague others thinking you were odd. There’s nothing wrong with a poet being isolated, but you have quite a public role now; you are no Emily Dickinson.
We all have our stories of discovering this or that poet, but I don’t know if I agree with Gould’s retort that ‘poetry itself is the teacher:’ yes and no. Keats loved Shakespeare and that helped him become Keats, but today the strategy, initiated by T.S. Eliot and his New Critic followers–including the crank, Yvor Winters–who rejected entire eras of remarkable poetry, is to swerve from the best of the past, to avoid confronting ‘the greats,’ and find some humble, homely, clown poet closer to our own day, who we find less intimidating. I’m sorry to be so blunt, but that is a strategy used by many.
Mentorism and connections have been ALL in poetry since Modernism was invented about 100 years ago at Harvard and Oxford. Again, sorry if I’m bursting ‘romantic’ balloons here, but it’s true. Yet we still seem to naively think that it’s all about the poets we discover in libraries. Well, yes and no. Don, your story does ring true, and I’m not questioning at all what you’ve said. I just feel that a crucial element is missing. I think it all has much more to do with flesh and blood human beings and what they choose to accept and reject for reasons that have nothing to with poetry, per se.
-26 Dislike POSTED BY: THOMAS BRADY ON AUGUST 4, 2009 AT 9:02 AM
Sorry, I don’t understand this. Human beings write and read poetry. I’m one. Ginsberg was one. You’re one. The people I grew up with and around are human beings. This is all about flesh and blood stuff: what happens to real people who are drawn to poetry is the very subject of this thread. Emily Dickinson was a human being, too, duh, but beyond that, I’d never say I was like her in any way, and I didn’t bring her up, you did. More importantly, my topic is not isolation, but its contrary. And that Winters troubled himself to write, however bloviatingly, to a young poet and even his father, is a sign of his humanity; if you read the intro to the letters, you’ll see that W. tried to do whatever he could for Cal Thomas, Jr. – and that Cal resisted the sway, and found his own path…
+12 Like POSTED BY: DON SHARE ON AUGUST 4, 2009 AT 9:33 AM
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I know human beings write and read poetry. Surely you know I was making a point slightly more subtle than that. You don’t have to agree with it, but I guess I’m puzzled that you are puzzled by what I said.
Your own post is marvelously specific about the human, and that’s exactly what I’m talking about.
In your own words, Don:
“The only poetry I’d ever known was the stuff you’re taught – and taught to ignore – in high school: harmless, syrupy anthology stuff, although even “Howl” is in anthologies for schoolkids these days. It took me a while to realize that there even were living poets, because I’d only been told of the dead ones! And once I smacked myself on the forehead and figured out that of course there were living poets, I imagined that they were all ghostly gray-bearded men, 3D images of, say, Whitman or John Greenleaf Whittier (I was not to meet a female poet until I was out of college). Well, Ginsberg had a beard, alright, but he was the liveliest most exciting man e’re I laid eyes upon. I fell in love with him…”
“I carried their books with me everywhere – earning me some funny looks…”
This is very specific, human stuff–the fact that you imagined poets to look like Whitman, for instance, rather than, say, Shelley–unlike Henry’s comment that follows, which I find very dry.
-26 Dislike POSTED BY: THOMAS BRADY ON AUGUST 4, 2009 AT 11:01
POSTED BY: SHEILA CHAMBERS ON AUGUST 6, 2009 AT 12:14 PM
THOMAS BRADY’S LAST COMMENT IN TYPESCRIPT
POSTED BY: THOMAS BRADY ON AUGUST 6, 2009 AT 1:23 PM