Thursday, June 03, 2010


Barbara Jane Reyes is interviewed by Lantern Review, and here's an excerpt:
Two of my poetry mentors, Jaime Jacinto and Eileen Tabios, were hands on. Whereas I consider the monumental community figure like Al Robles to have been inspirational (because of his poems, the subject matter of his poems, and his community work; his poetic and political practice were the same thing), Jaime and Eileen gave me a lot of one-on-one concrete literary advice about where to submit my work, which poets to read; they asked me hard questions about what I wanted my poetry to do, and advised me accordingly. Both have also read my manuscripts in progress and given me feedback on these. These two also brought me into literary reading venues and as editors, into publication.

Here's what's ... sad. Part (just part) of what I take from Barbara's interview and the above excerpt in particular is that she gives credit. She doesn't forget. Is this significant? Well yeah! I can't even begin to tell you how many young poets have asked for...and received ... my help and now treat me today as if I don't exist. (Google me, Young Poet, and you know who you are...!) Wassup with that? It's like, thanking someone might dim the spotlight you require on your own of-course-very-magnificent achievement...

Fortunately, I don't do what I do to get thanks (I do it for subway tokens) -- it's just that, isn't it a shame when "thanks" becomes so unlike poetry: a rare commodity?

Speaking of community, I get a lot of how-to-get-published queries. Last time I mentioned community versus the quality of their writings, I got (stunned?) silence in response. (Not even a simple "Thank you" for my feedback?) And this is not to say I privilege community over the writing -- it's just one of my assessments of the practicalities of publishing...

Some young (and old) writers don't seem to like discussing community -- they're more likely to believe what they're writing is the greatest thing since the Fall of Paradise, thus want to focus only/mostly on the quality of their work (sigh: at times, I don't like it when others behave like Moi). Writing is individual (if we not address, for the moment, the constraints of inherited context). But publication is social. This ain't complicated: writing and publishing aren't the same thing -- and if you're not smart enough to recognize that, how great can be the quality of your work? Greatness in anything, it seems to me, often requires a minimum level of ... self-awareness.

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