Chimera Song Mosaic
Wednesday, March 24, 2004
In today’s mail: a check from my work for mileage reimbursement and two rejection slips. I toss the three scraps of paper onto a pile of yet-to-be-graded blue books—the very thing whose painful completion indirectly funds my mileage check. The message is clear: these are the things that are valued, and these are the things that are not.

I have been following the comments to Silliman’s blog entry of March 22nd (the one Jim points to), and I have to snort at someone’s trepidation about poetic sellouts. Sellouts? What is there to sell out! Happily, happily, I would sell my poetry. I wonder, am I going to get 5.7 million for it, like the Ebay kidney, before the biding is stopped by well-meaning poets everywhere, whose chief goal is to keep it real?

I am going to be the first to jump at the chance for a cushy life, doing (this sounds so hokey, but if it weren’t true, why would I bother?) what I love to do, should the chance ever arrive. And I am not going to grant the academic-for-life the title sellout, because regards of how few classes he or she has to teach and how few office hours he or she is held to, there’s still a handful of students and a modest parcel of essays that somehow don’t quite feel like one’s life work. I’m talking a Stephan King setup (read his recent scriptobiography, On Writing.) Is this going to happen to a poet anytime soon? I am not waiting with, as they say, bated breath. I think we poets can rest fairly easy that ours is a realm where the selling out is a pipe dream rather than a paranoia.

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