saemus p. o’cuinn | feedback on dispatch no. 75

20 10 2007

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Poetry Dispatch No.77 | June 2, 2006

FEEDBACK | (Poetry Dispatch No.75)

Oh, to write just one poem
that would last as long as that rose
tattooed on her butt.
Jim Harrison & Ted Kooser

Advice to a Young Poet by Seamus P. O’Cuinn

If you want to die
a happy poet,
just play the role
but never write
a single line.
Do as Thoreau says,
let the quality
of your life
be your poetry.
Let other be seduced
by the Muses’
promises of fame.
Let them take
the risk
of writing poems,
only to die
with broken hearts,
knowing their lines
will be forgotten
as fast
as they are written-
if they are read
at all.

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beautiful poem, norb, thanks… R.B.

(Ed. Reply: YEAH, WE READ IT, SMILE, MAYBE BELIEVE IT…AND LIKE OLE BECKETT, GO ON TO FAIL AGAIN. FAILING BETTER. Norbert Blei)

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Yes, it would be wonderful if the poetry lasted ’til the ink was dry. I might add, since I’ve just finished my first quick read-through this morning, to die a happy poet, or even to imagine yourself a vaguely adequate one, you should never look into the book “Braided Creek”. But it’s too late for you & I. R.M.

(Ed. Reply: NEVER TOO LATE/ALWAYS TOO LATE—FOR YOU AND ME AND THEM Norbert Blei)

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Norb -

Once, & once only, a young person asked me how to proceed with becoming
& being a poet.

I said, Don’t be a poet!

Be a good & great person who, among other things, writes poetry.

With a bit more time for reflection, I’d put it this way:

Be a good & great person who, among other things, writes good & great
poetry.

When people call me a poet, for the reason implied above, I deny
it–unless it’s not worth getting into it with them, as is usually the
case. But I do my best to keep it straight for myself. I’m not a
poet. I’m not a writer. I’m someone trying to be a good & great
person, who, among other things, writes, among other sorts of things,
poems.
E.C.

And how often we’ve all been on THAT downer, eh?
A poem, of course, if it’s a good poem, is like a tattoo that gets clearer as everything around it wrinkles…
B.H.


(Ed. Reply: It’s where we all live: wrinkled poems and faded rose tattoos on the body once, electric. Norbert Blei)

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I don’t think I would go so far as to say “Don’t write the poem” but I
might say something like “writing the poem is all that matters.” What
brings poetry into fruition makes my life fragrant and sweet.
Anything that comes after that is an unsought blessing.

Oh, how far I’ve come…did you notice no list of published credits
this year in my letter to you?

There are of course, I try to keep things circulating “out there” but
it no longer matters like it used to. The writing life–reading, notes
in my journal, thoughts, finding language, listening, hearing,
smelling, tasting, crafting the work–brings its own rewards. So many
projects, so much yet to put down, a life that is really good and
sweet.

It’s the only thing I can control about writing, the process, the life,
and the more I turn inward, I am beginning to see, the better I get,
whether anyone else will see that or not.
C.H.

(Ed. Reply: You got it right. Norbert Blei)

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Still chewing on this one. I stumble over the pessimistic ending. The sense of the futility of it all except for one’s own need to get the words down, which is
important. The words of many, many poets ARE heard, and they bless the poets who write them as well. It is one thing to not write for fame or money, it is another thing to be told write only if you are willing to have a brokenheart, because that implies that you have the broken heart because you WANTED the fame and money and didn’t get it. Does that make any sense to you?
B.F.V.

(Ed. reply: GOES BACK TO THE ZEN (KOAN) SOUND OF—-ONE HAND, TYPING? Norbert Blei)

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Dear Norb,
Nonsense! As Tu Fu (712-790) said:
“poets must live without successl,
driven by their demons.”
Not write? Better to be dead.
R.O.

(ED. Reply: IT ALL COMES DOWN TO “DRIVEN BY THEIR DEMONS.” Norbert Blei)

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