I wasn't going to do anything to celebrate National Poetry Months this year, seeing as I haven't written anything of substance for months. The week before I had just participated in my first real poetry reading, and the process of going back and looking over my work really shook me; I was shocked by how poor it was. I had thought that after working so hard at this for over a decade, I should have reached a certain level of skill by now.
But no. Upon rereading my work from the last couple of years, I hated it all, it all felt so phony and amateurish. I did manage to find a few pieces I could bear to read aloud, and the reading went fairly well despite my anxiety. But I couldn't shake the feeling that I'd been wasting my time, that I was a hopeless misguided hack.
A few days later I attended what turned out to be the worst reading I'd ever seen. All throughout the performance, I kept wondering if the whole thing was being put on to mock those of us misguided enough to actually give a shit about poetry. The writer [I wouldn't call him a poet] read for a full hour, one long piece that was little more than a string of painfully unfunny one-liners, the types of things that college sophomores drunkenly scribble on napkins after reading a couple of Bukowski books. As he did this, a woman danced [I use the term generously] around the room with a Bible across her face and a rubber pig mask over the back of her head. A video of her dancing was projected above them. It all must have been a joke, right? Right? They received thunderous applause at the end regardless.
But it was freeing. I felt that first of all no matter how hard I tried could never be as terrible as these assholes, and second of all, it was my moral obligation as a member of the local art community to oppose these people, to engage them in battle, and what better way then by working as hard as I can to become a better poet?
I don't know what that means though. I don't know what kind of further discipline might help me improve. I still read as much as I can and attend as many readings as I can stomach. I try to stay well-rounded, immersing myself in all the arts, trying to be open to as many different experiences as my limited budged will allow. But is it enough? I've been at this for years and I am still not all that good. Do I need to swallow my pride and take some fucking classes or workshops? The idea makes my skin crawl.
Anyways, at least I'm writing again; more than anything, I've missed the pure pleasure of putting together a poem, even a shitty one. I was surprised at how much good it did me to force myself to write a piece every day; they're not good by any means, but I enjoyed writing them, and even wrote a bunch of extra pieces which I'll post over the next week or so.
I know that no one really cares about any of this; anyone who stumbles onto this post can just assume that I'm writing this as therapy, meant for no one but myself to read. As such, thanks for your indulgence. And thanks to those of you who have supported me over the years; I know it can't be easy putting up with all this self-absorbed ranting.