Thursday, March 19, 2009

Eric writes...

I read about the first half of your collection, & was so discouraged, I had to stop.

That's no reflection on your technique, nor on your integrity.

You must realize that most literature for the last 100 years or more, especially poetry in English, from whatever part of the world, is mainly pathetic--I mean the authors are sharing their despair. I try not to write such, & to read only as much of it as is necessary to remember the situation. For instance, I don't read the brilliant work of Kafka, after reading a lot of it in my youth. No matter how brilliant it is, it contributes to my inclination to give up, which I can't afford to do.

I seek out work which, at the same time, is honest, which is rare, & somehow strengthening, inspiring, which is rarer still. In poetry, I'm a big fan of a lot of the work of Walt Whitman & Lao Tzu, tho sometimes I think Whitman self-indulgent & facile & Lao Tzu irresponsible. Likewise, I'm a fan of Nietzsche, the German philosopher, tho I think he's terribly, dangerously wrong about a lot. For years, I had a wonderful, brief poem on my door, by Tagore (who, of course, had the advantage of being born wealthy--still, I'll take wisdom & courage where I can get it--even born-rich people can be better than just complacently clever). I'm fond of the little stories of the Sufis, collected & probably some fabricated by Idries Shah.

Sometimes, in the past, you have grappled very honestly, as one individual, with living under the rule of corrupt government. I have appreciated that work, as I face the same situation. Often, that's my subject, too.

I have a rule, that I try to enforce, tho, of course, rarely can: I'll listen to any complaint, exactly once. If the same person makes the same complaint again, I'm sorry, I can't afford to listen. I have read a lot of poet's work--one or two poems, then quit. Can we do something, together, to change the situation for the better? If not, excuse me, I must attempt to survive, to thrive, to make my own contribution to others similarly struggling. I don't need to be convinced how terrible life can be & usually is, & I doubt anyone on Earth has less respect for the so-called leaders of society or, for that matter, for the way most have adapted to being ruled.

When I write, I try not to make the same complaint once, & not, merely, to articulate the complaint, even once--there must be, minimally, a fresh &/or more profound understanding in each poem, or story, or essay, or whatever sort of articulation I'm putting forth. Better yet, some strategy or at least tactic enunciated or at least implied--at the very least, some ability to survive the terrible situation described, & some, at least, minimal hope of finding or, more likely, creating a better situation.

Most American, Indian, British English poetry, most poetry in general, I find, is mainly complaining. Sometimes the complaints are fresh & profound, & contribute to my ability to struggle more successfully--tho rarely. Most are just weak people imitating other weak people, wanting attention & praise for being clever, while making it more difficult for me to carry on & triumph over adversity & maybe help others do likewise.

I hope you understand that I am not belittling you. You have proven yourself, in the past, so talented & kind, that I am concentrating this much, to communicate with you.

In my own work, presently more than ever, I am struggling to surmount great obstacles in the current situation, as well as in the situation out of which I arose, & in the midst of which I put myself together as best I was able, & find I must always be amending, as I learn more about the world & about myself, & face unexpected urgent or protracted necessities. I struggle to face the situation & myself, in my work, honestly, but honesty is not enough--to deliver a package of words & images & ideas to whatever audience finds my work, something truly useful to them. Who can afford to fail? I can't, you can't, my audience can't, your audience can't--no matter how terrible or insane the situation we encounter. That's the situation, & our necessity is to succeed--tho not by other people's usually dishonest standards--anyway--no?

Be well. Don't hesitate to send me your work, or thoughts, whenever you think it's something I might appreciate, & which you wish to share with me. You're an intelligent & caring person. I'm interested in what you do.

Love, strength, & skies -

Eric

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