Thursday, October 2, 2008


A few posts ago, someone left this comment:

poetryguy said...

It's kind of like how the world's best writers are all baristas... I guess. Your blog's a trip.

In the interest of considering spaces like this forums for constructive dialogue, I'm just making the new post to promote conversation that seems pretty important, rather than have it buried in an older post.

Thank you again, anonymous "poetryguy," for your appreciation of this space. However, I'm going to have to disagree that the best writers been baristas. Wallace Stevens worked for an insurance company; William Carlos Williams was a pediatrician; Li-Young Lee's been a worker in a warehouse for years until recently; Bob Hicok (one of the most published writers today) had some kind of automotive shop until recently. These people had, and have skills beyond being wonderful writers, and those skills, more than likely, feed back into their writing. Even the Beats, who probably are responsible for the origins of this misconception, weren't baristas--Kerouac had many different professions, if not a pretty good career as a working writer; Ginsberg was a successful writer and then professor, and Burroughs came from wealth to support his successful writing. Most people who work in a coffee shop, unless they own or manage that shop, are there as a job, not a permanent vocation, and that's what I was attempting to get at. The thing is--in the last 30 years at least--that most of the "world's best" end up getting offered positions in academia, getting paid far more money than what they were to teach maybe a class or two a semester. Unfortunately we live in a country that doesn't support or subsidize their fine artists. Refer back to Max's initial post regarding "cultured, polished stuff." And teaching is wonderful if you can put your entire Self into it while the writing comes, and I'm not sure as many who are employed actually do. But my sense is that we can produce exceptional poetry while also serving society and the world in other capacities. That'll bring us the intentions when creating art, but I'll think about that and maybe toss in my two cents another day. Or maybe Max can offer an idea....


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