Courtesy of American Poetry dot Biz
“American Poetry, as I shall demonstrate this year and in all years ever after celebrates what’s great about America (baseball) and what’s great about poetry (it’s short). It celebrates the creation of a text, an art form that is basically worthless to everyone concerned but somehow still worth having around, like really excellent graffiti. The Politics of Self-Promotion in Poetry must come to an end. I don’t know why some are so eager to engage in it: I have experienced the bountiful love and the unmitigated hatred of many poets, many of the same poets. And there’s barely any decipherable difference, I find both impossibly hostile. There is a different way through poems: not everyone has to start a blog, become buddies with other people who have blogs, start movements of poetry, publish book after book after book, become a professor, put students into debt, ruin your own life and live in a vast sea of your own bitterness: that doesn’t seem like a way to go. It’s hard out here for pimps, visionaries, people who don’t want to play the game. But I’d rather die as an enemy to what most poets in this country represent than live the life of the professional poet, the friendly poet, the one who wanted to join the system rather than fuck it up.
The only thing you need to be a poet in this country is to read poems, hear poems and write poems. Nothing else matters and nothing else ever will. There could be a revolution in every line or a complicit agreement in each to be a part of the problem: you decide, it’s your mediocrity we’re talking about here. After every workshop has been taught, after every student loan bill has been paid, it’ll still be you in a room with a blank page headed towards dawn.
You may think of me as just another creepy charlatan, and of course I am. I’ve created this character over the years, the angry outsider, the crazy poetry terrorist, the sexy koala of love, the wrathful hammer of anger, whatever, this personae has served me well. I am angry and I am somewhat sexy. In the end, I simply wish to evaporate up off the pavement, leaving nothing at all behind. In the moments when you choose for yourself a life of middle management v. a life pleasing only yourself with the poems you tinker at, I hope you will chose. You can support a system that puts students and poets into massive debt for no apparent reason, or you can resist that system. You might as well spend that money, in my opinion, on books of poetry you enjoy, on door $ for poetry readings, on cases of bad beer and on a couch in the middle of the woods to make out on. The revolution is not a facebook group and you will not receive an evite to it. American Poetry happens, for me, the moment everything else is happening: especially not this essay.” -Jim Behrle