I went down to 1 kilorat yesterday. In my mind I tossed suspect reasons for the dip. First, there was Kathleen with two days of emotonal instability which could have led to a depression (she is a unipolar major recurrent depressive). Then there was my friend Ralph's visit where we were used as a cheap motel and he didn't even stay long enough to fish with me. When he's with his second wife he's more often task oriented rather than process oriented. What's strange thereby is that despite a Subaru station wagon stuffed to the gills, including 50 cubic feet of stuff on the roof covered in a blue tarp, they lacked warm clothes and State Park reservations. The inconsistency of humans is a constant amusement.
When they left the next morning I wanted to accompany them to town but there was "no room." My ride must have been taken up by a back-up cooler. I love Ralph, so this is only another example of mistaken expectations. I was hoping he'd hang with me, talk about things, maybe go fishing. Instead he had a hair up his ass to go to Patrick's Point far north of here. What it's attraction is I don't know, but there were only four primitive campsites left there, which means they would have to schlep all their shit far from their car.
I encouraged him to get into the "process" of vacation and forget about the goals. Where a vacation leads you is where you need to go, in my experience, and it's futile to struggle against all the variables that a vacation entails. Often the best vacations are just puttering around the house and garden with no schedule to fulfill. Haven't we all had ambitious vacations from which we returned not rested but exhausted?
Obviously, to the untrained mind, either Kathleen's sadness or my disappointment with Ralph could have fueled depression. But this is entirely erroneous. As I thought about it I realized I'd missed my Prozac for two days. Yes, Virginia, my brain is that sensitive. For serious depressives, always, always, always think about your medication compliance before you go off half-cocked on some irrelevant life experience. This disease is not necessarily related to any life experiences; it is endogenous. One shrink I had explained to me that even if I was asymptomatic the disease goes on. Hard lesson to learn, but I nailed it yesterday after reflection and took the missing meds.
We are more biochemical than not. No one really knows exactly what these medications do to the brain, though theories abound. The simple neurotramitter model of manipulating serotonin, noradrenaline and dopamine is a terrible oversimplification. Nevertheless we use these medications because they work. Whatever a shrink tells you, it's more art than science.
Last night I began to go through my old links to publications for the first time in a coon's age. And as I suspected, fully 75% of e-zines that published me did not maintain archives, which effectivey depublishes all those poems and frees them for submission again. (I'll put a couple of old links that still work below instead of afflicting my audience with a poem here.)
The evanescent nature of the Net was revealed in this task. Supposedly there's a giant storage facility in the State of Washington that preserves everything, but I have severe doubts about that. That's too much information for anything to hold.
A poet's greatest ambition is to conquer time, to be read by future generations. How that is determined is a mystery and difficult to predict, but one thing is certain: the more exposure you have in your lifetime, the better your chance of having your work transcend time.
BTW, I would put more photos in my blog but it won't upload images from my computer right now. Anyone else having the same problem?
Very few poets will be remembered beyond their lifetimes. Billy Collins will likely be forgotten because he lacks memorable quotes in his semi-conversational method. But I could be wrong. I mention him only because he reigns in poetry as the most popular and prolific contemporary American poet. In comparison I'm a gnat on his windshield. And I could be wrong about his future reputation, naturally.
Now for two linka to magazines that have not yet depublished my work:
Thank you, 3rd Muse and Samsara.
I like one theologian's definition of humility (James Packer): "A sober sense of self-place."
Depression changes you. I see how very far I must go to secure some poetic reputation, because I see myself more clearly now: I'm not the most gifted poet around, but I work very hard at it. I'm a nut for revisions. I agonize over line breaks. I try to cut out everything that doesn't advance the poem without losing the spontanaeity of the first draft.
I'm in the third tier of poets. First there are the big, big names like John Ashbery, Mark Strand, Phillip Levine, Rita Dove and the like. Then there is the second tier waiting in the wings, folks like Dorianne Laux and Kim Addonnizio. After the second tier comes poets like me, who publish mainly in less prestigious small press journals, to which almost all e-zines belong, and can't get a decent press to publish a book (I lucked out with my first and only book). Finally, in the fourth tier, are poets who are lucky to get a publication in the small press journals, or primarily spoken word poets, a type that belongs to another whole culture of poetry slams. Lastly comes the largest group, the fifth tier poet wannabes, who spend their life at boards or in workshops but lack the native talent to succeed.
If one limits considerations to the Net, I suppose for a net poet I'm in the first tier, but that doesn't play in the Peoria of the larger world.
The poets who have really benefited from the Net are those who have used it as a platform to introduce themselves, then parlayed that into a mailing list, blog, and larger reputation. If they're lucky they can follow this up with publications in the good journals, then a non-vanity press book, and finally seminars and retreats and guest teaching positions. Sounds good, doesn't it? But think of all the travel. And think about what it must do to an artist to have to teach his craft repeatedly to unpromising students. "With every gift there comes a curse." --Springsteen
People say don't worry about the visitor count here, but I've become a bit obsessive about it. The only thing I noticed was that when I blogged about the Rat Man I got the largest number visitors. But I'm here to write, not to manipulate traffic.
Mood Meter: 0.5 kilorats.
Thine in Truth and Art,