I move, intellectually, in a triangle between politics, religion and poetry. In the past one has always been in the ascendant at a particular time of the year. I'm obsessing on the iniquities of the Tories, or thinking about nothing except my zazen cushion, or I'm writing reams and reams of haiku and whatever. Lately I've been trying to find a balance between them all so that I can find time to indulge each without neglecting the others. Abandon this habit of phases for this or that. And I've been doing all right, though poetry still suffers a little bit.
I have seriously fallen out of love with publishing poetry. I have done it--not as often as some, but I've done it. So it's not the rationalisation of a defeated man. I'm just struggling to believe there's any merit in it anymore. Does publishing mean you are any good? You'd think so, but so much of what is published (I include mine) is mediocre, or average, or uninteresting. So much of it does nothing to advance the craft or help us look into our lives and our world with deeper understanding. So little of it is magical. You read Basho or Issa and inwardly you go, "Aww!" feeling wonder at the quality of their minds or the beauty of their language stirring in your breast. You read Tu Fu or Li Po or Richard Brautigan or d.a levy or Ronald Baatz and it makes you laugh and cry and see the world with new eyes. How much of what you find on MySpace makes you do that?
Perhaps it doesn't have to do that, but that's what I'm looking for. A lot of the time it seems that all you have to do to get published is know the right people, or write a competent poem in the tone that suits an editor's prejudice. Or sound just enough like Bukowski or have just enough references to booze and worms.
I can do that if I set my mind to it--I can do all of that--but at the moment I really don't want to.So I write poems for my own pleasure instead, using some of the poets mentioned above as touchstones. Trying to be brilliant rather than pleading to be known. Whether it works or not in the long run only time will tell.
When a poem that rivals Basho is tossed into a bin bag and thrown into a skip to fortify the karma of the crows and blackbirds at the rubbish tip.