Most of what I am thinking right now is just how naive I have been for the past 20+ years of being a poet. I just got finished reading an interview of a poet who is just a little younger than I am, brilliant, and so much more in tune with what it takes to be a successful poet. This right on top of being denied the opportunity to read at a community college because my name isn't on a certain list of "approved" writers by the Nevada Arts Council. Color me embarrassed.
Here I thought I was beginning to make some headway with my choice to become a poet and enter into the world of poetry and the more noble aspects of professional activity found within the poetry community. But that's just a pipe dream, and though I have always known about hard work, difficult times, and the uphill battle that is publication, I have just hit the walls of Jericho, and I came all this way not knowing I needed a trumpet.
The interview I read punctuated the fact that I am not part of the anointed. Now I always knew I would never be a 'name' poet, never win any fellowships, and if I was to ever get any sizable grant, it would be a miracle right out of scripture, but that's not why I have stayed with poetry all of these years, so it never really bothered me. What got me was this interview dropped some names (but not in any way I would give fault) and I realized I have no writers I can name in the same way. This poet heaped praise upon these other poets, gave them credit for motivation and work which enabled an entire manuscript. I have nobody with whom I can work and say such things.
Poetry is most often a solitary thing. We poets live and struggle in our own hearts and minds, and maybe that's why we crave companionship with other poets---not to co-write, but to co-habit the same terrain that is poetry. The interview made me look around. Of course I began to think about my mentor, Dave Lee. He has had tremendous relationships with poets. Two such relationships have torn him apart in recent years with the deaths of his dear friends, Kenneth Brewer and William Kloefkorn. And while I mourn with my friend Dave, it is with him I mourn, because I only knew these men in passing.
My realization is that I lack the kinds of relationships which create a bond and a support network among poets. Some might say because I am a poet I should be happy in my loneliness, but that isn't so. This is not the kind of emptiness which feeds artistic drive. Others might say more correctly, that I have been my own worst enemy. I have tried to support other poets, read and critique, play cheerleader, and create friendships. I believe I have been successful up to a point, but have in the end, been unable to make that leap of faith which might draw me close to other poets and form the relationships which would help me to reach even further. And it has been my fault, too. I am not an easy person to interact with for very long. I talk too much and wear out my welcome far too easily.
I perpetually feel as if I came to the dinner party ten minutes late and everyone else has already started their conversations. They are too busy to backtrack and I am simply too simple-minded to catch on in the middle of a conversation. It's not the secret handshake I am looking for (that's what I was talking about two days ago) but I look around and I all I can find is a seat at the kid's table.
I have been naive to think I might be allowed to create a working world of poetry in which to live.