Wednesday, October 1, 2008


In a recent post, Amy King (thanks, Kelli, for the link) warns about all the fame and glory a poet will never get. No sudden discovery. No overnight success. Not like the musician with his EP, or the scientist with her Eureka! moment.

What? Never? No Pushcart nomination? No Pushcart prize, no poem in Best American Poetry, no reading at the 92nd Street Y?

The title of the post is "Poetry Is to Money as Ice Cream is to Mud," and I won't argue that point.

But never is such a long time.

Okay, that cat's out of the bag. Don't ask me why, but I harbor certain hopes. Maybe it's vanity or maybe it's a thirst for validation. Should it be necessary to have that validation? Is it why I write? No on both counts. But I have my hopes just as the person who buys lottery tickets has hopes. My submissions are my lottery tickets. (The lottery probably has better odds.)

This morning, that reminded me of something my friend
Gina told me about two kinds of genius: the Mozart kind, where you're immediately obviously blindingly gifted and brilliant, and the Beethoven kind, where you just keep working hard. That was back in the '80s.

Fast forward to now, and Gina has been working hard all along. You can read more about what she's been up to in
this profile that appeared in Vanity Fair. The same goes for Pat Graney, who has always followed her own vision. And, as I've mentioned before, Ross Palmer Beecher, who has over the years kept an amazing work ethic and kept making art, which you can see here and here and here.

It is about doing it. It is, for me, about the writing--and it's about sharing that writing, reading it and publishing it, they way you perform a dance or hang a painting.

And I'm still not ready to say Never.


~ said...

Joannie, Great post! I feel the same way. I don't like to say never either. Life is magical at times and we just do not know what's going to happen.

I'm definitely a Beethoven kind of girl.

jeannine said...

I don't think we'd work as hard as we do if we didn't think that someday, someone would love our work. Maybe not a million dollar grant or a Pulitzer prize, but having someone love your work is worth a lot.

Jane said...

Thanks for the links to Ross Palmer Beecher's work. I'd love to know how she executes those quilts. Very inspiring/inspired statements. I'll try to see some of her art LIVE when we visit Seattle next.