Friday, August 31, 2012

sit up straight and look like a poet

I'm sure it's just jealousy. Most things are.

I've come to resent the book cover photos of the poet that looks out at you, his expression appearing as though he is startled to have found himself there, his most intimate thoughts published for all the world to see, by BOA Editions or Coffee House Press, by Michigan, Pittsburgh, Arizona, Georgia. And I have nothing to offer him in return but my undying devotion – after all, I am one of the few, the small pod of humans that buys poetry books, albeit second-hand.

And what has he got to look alarmed about? I mean, really. He must have known this was coming – writing in some disciplined way every day that he will ultimately reveal in a Poets & Writers interview from his light-filled house, churning out poems, essays, revisions, hob-nobbing electronically with his old MFA pals, submitting with some regularity to prestigious journals and being accepted half of the time. It's not as if he spends his days crawling under furniture, picking up gooey Cheerios, fleeing the house every couple days, or weeks, the baby wailing at him, stretching out his little arms for him like a drowning man going down for the last time, then having to avoid the questions from the older kids in the driveway: “Where are you going?”

“To write,” he'd have to tell them, as if none of this affected him and then get in the car, sweating.

At the cafe, the super-ordinary adultness and freedom of saucers clicking would make him want to close his journal into which he had managed in the course of 15 minutes to write the date, lower his head into his hands and weep.

No, it's not like that at all.

And it makes one think that every one of these author photos should be set up like an 80's Glamor Shot or posed on the top of a mountain – arms raised in triumph over their literary heads and silhouetted against a pink and orange sunset.

What is it with these photos anyway? Sly looks. Shy profiles. Pensive, pondering Bodhi tree expressions. Aren't poets meant to be the heralders of truth? The carriers of clarity? Open your eyes, man, and look at the camera! Isn't that what your mother, who probably spent her days crawling under furniture, picking up your gooey Cheerios so you could go off and become a freaking poet would want? And another thing on her behalf – pick up your damn feet when you walk!

1 comment:

Rita said...

Priceless! You are a heralder of truth, no doubt. I'm sure those mothers of poets (and of others) thank you. And I sympathize.

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