Friday, March 21, 2014

Power hour

Genius cartoon by John Glashan
[UPDATED] All day long -- through the Starbucks line, the commute, the desk-bound hours -- she thought about the damn poem. Another pale poem. The one she'd written, revised, picked at. The one she'd failed.

Which got her thinking about the nature of failure -- and the nature of poetry. And the nature of persistence, most of all.

Failure might be -- except on a particularly downer day that, say, starts with snow and includes an unexpected car repair bill, in additional to a decided lack of inspiration about a troubling poem -- she might choose to look at failure as just, you know, opportunity. 'Said Pollyanna, smiling cheerfully!' Or it might be a Glashan cartoon. She'd agree it was over-discussed, anyway.

[And in case you can't read the Glashan quote in the cartoon: 'Anyone can be a success but it takes real guts to be a failure.]

And the nature of poetry in a little way, kind of in a way Stephen Spender said, except the great part
Great poetry is always written by somebody straining to go beyond what he can do.
 Although now we're back to the nature of failure. But luckily e.e. cummings said
Well, write poetry, for God's sake, it's the only thing that matters.
Which explains why she didn't quit, even with the failure and all. Because Matthew Arnold mentioned that
Poetry is, at bottom, a criticism of life.
Which seemed a little bit like what that failure of a poem was getting at, actually. And she'd always been guilty of non-labelling, only to find out Bob Dylan said
I think a poet is anybody who wouldn't call himself a poet.
Which maybe she disagreed with, but who was she to disagree with Bob Dylan?

And we're on to persistence. What's the difference between persistence, and stubborn hubris? That sounded like a question that needed both an editor and a therapist; an editor to diagnosis the poetry, and the therapist to diagnose her head. Persistence is rather easily practiced, as it turns out, and as far as bad poetry is concerned, hurts no one, and is necessary to success; stubborn hubris, though strongly lamentable in, say, world leaders (we're looking at you, Vladimir), and could hurt, well, the world; but in bad bloggers, is no where near as damaging. The worst thing that can happen is a day wasted on thinking about it.

Which she did. But it filled up an empty box, didn't it?

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