ESTATES

The scholarship/ journalism (if those aren't incompatible disciplines), side of Blue Fred Press is really taking hold now. I've got the Philip Whalen site, the new Ezra Pound site, and the beatnik, which is publishing work by some significant figures in post-War American literature. (Truly, that's not just arrogant publisher talk designed to beef up support for something useless. If you go to the site you can read Gerald Nicosia, Jonah Raskin, Neeli Cherkovski, Charles Plymell, and soon Jerry Kamstra as well.)

But the more successful I become at this, the more I have to deal with stuff that really has nothing to do with poetry. Such as literary estates. I can't tell you how much I dislike dealing with them. The authors listed in the final sentence of the previous paragraph are a delight: unpretentious, with an ear to the streets and unspoiled by the success they've had. But the estates of some of the others? Ahh, give me strength!

Perhaps this is just the reality. Perhaps this is the truth of the literary life--or any walk of life. People have to make a living; and someone has to keep and nurture the memory of dead poets so that succeeding generations can take the same pleasure in them that we have taken. But I think memories are safest in the hands of those who cherish the departed, not those who know how to do business with them. When I have someone telling me I need permission from them before I reproduce a favourite author's words--not the words of the person creating the obstruction, mind you-- on a page that is designed to celebrate their life, I have a strong compulsion just to fold the page and forget about it. This is supposed to be about the poetry, after all.

But then, that purist, determinedly small press, mind might be the reason I have to quit this little rant of mine now and go to work for eight hours doing something that has nothing to do with writing and saps my creative juices like a trepanning without anaesthetic.

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