Herbie Mann Comin' Home

Thursday, May 1, 2008


The guy -- forgot his name (Jason?) -- who, with his wife, runs __________, the poetry bookstore in ________, chatted with me once a few years ago about some national luminary -- forgot whom -- being shepherded about here by some local luminary -- didn't know him, but visualized 'rich-casual', 'agreably-take-charge', 'academic-charming'-- both of them reaching [the bookstore] to look around and pick the Jason's brains.

The national guy was editing that year's Best Poetry of _____, and wanted to sample places around the nation, get views from 'experts' like this specialist shop owner, Jason -- nice guy, still forget his last name. What this team of ferrets sought were people of a certain age (youngish, with 'mileage left' to them) who had gotten published (not self-published, but 'juried'), perhaps, two books.

As a bureaucratic in enough ways myself, I understand 'threshold tests'. That these automatically ruled me out (as such sequestration always seems to have done) stung. But, then, I'm not sure what I could expect from an Eastern Seaboard 'establishment' if even local Jason -- he, of whom it can be said I still can't place the last name -- if even his local, friendly store has diplomatically remained silent about not placing any of my ('non-juried') chapbooks among the several local ('non-juried') chapbooks nevertheless residing inconspicuously, but proudly, on its shelves.

The broader (and, fairly said, 'objective') issue is how art, human activity meant as (a) spontaneous, authentic response to experience; (b) inventive rehandling and transforming of tradition; and (c) revelation to humans, nooked, frightened, baffled, fooled, and despairing, about what human life means -- how that art gets forced to lose its higher and lower frequencies, becomes a 'smart muzak' to puff up the self-image of those fortunate enough to have afforded an education and place in the social structure that values well-being 'with a touch of sobering sadness overcome by trial and meditative embrace', perhaps seasoning itself more, sobering its well-being against 'an awareness of the anger out there over inequities that need redressing'; OR how that art blows a speaker coming out as a bullhorn cadence rant from the street.

I know, I know -- any critique made from these keyboarding fingers or these silver-worded lips, my 'prophesies' -- smack of sour grapes, a woe-is-me by the untalented loser. But looking over blogs -- what's shown there even more than in the standard poetry world, is the vacuity of ideas, the superficiality of treatment, the occasional facility with words having little sense of their own power save to advertise immediate ego needs and avoid any 'reach', any complicated 'flavoring' beyond the vain breath mint.

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