Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Problems of Poets as Poets

Digital montage © Roy R. Behrens (2015)
William H. Gass, "The Soul Inside the Sentence" in Habitations of the Word (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1984), p. 119—

People call themselves poets and painters, and seek help for their failures, as I might come to a psychiatrist to discover the causes of my vaulter's block or to find out why I can't get anywhere in nuclear physics. Indeed, regularly people push through the turnstiles of the critic's day who feel very strongly the need to pass as poets, to be called "creative," to fit into a certain niche, acquire an identity the way one acquires plants there's no time to tend or goldfish that can't be kept alive, and their problems are important and interesting and genuine enough; but they are not the problems of poets as poets, any more than the child who tiptoes to school on the tops of fences has the steelworker's nerves or nervousness or rightly deserves his wage.