Sunday, March 18, 2007

Post Party Stress

Ryan Gallagher introduced me to the oh-so-true feeling of vulnerability you have after putting yourself out there; he simply calls it, "post party stress." It's a great term and I think everyone should know about it. The best thing is we've all been there—some, of course, more than others!

Anyway, I think in my St. Patrick's Day Manifesto (below), I unnecessarily harsh on the chapbookers and the shout outers and the poetry readers, etc. After some more thought, I'd say that self-promotion and careerism are not the same thing. Self-promotion, while icky in some ways, has always been practiced by writers: W.C. Willams self-published books and put them in drugstore windows; Ginsberg was always criss-crossing the continent with someones (or his own) manuscript in his luggage to show off; many of us, like Joe Massey and ShinYu Pai, have books for sale on our websites and go on reading tours. This seems par for the course and certainly should be supported as this kind of activity actually helps create an alternative space/place or temporary autonomous zone from mainstream publications and corporate presses, etc. The difference here is that I see careerism as way of fracturing or unnecessarily complicating poetic relationships by it's necessarily competitive nature. It's a lot like capitalism in its quest for vague and infinite growth. It's also based on the idea of being somewhere where you are necessarily not which can be likened to escapism (i.e. "Calgon, take me away").

On the positive side of things, you've gotta love the Do It Yourself mentality of many individual poets and small presses. So as a point of clarification (and so I can sleep better): my St. Patty's Day rant wasn't in any way directed toward y'all.

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