Sometimes the sheer brilliance of a critic telling us what a piece of shit our work is, helps in ways we can’t begin to fathom...
While listening to a critic recently discussing a poet and a body of that poet’s work and talking about how “important” the work is and how this poet “changed the trajectory of American poetry.” It was as if the poem and poet were easily as powerful and important as an asteroid smashing into the earth and throwing up a 200 yearlong dust cloud, Obscuring the sun and killing almost all life on the planet.
I am loathe to confess that his hyperbolic overreaction, reminds me a bit of myself. As in boy-o-boy, is that poet ever a big deal, huh? I guess we’d better really listen closely to what this critic (and I’m afraid myself from time to time) is saying.
In truth however, the critic, has never moved a single human soul so far as a Nano-millimeter by anything he has ever written. Indeed, this critic is speaking in a documentary video about this incredibly important Poet (regrettably NOT about ME), who, movie star handsome, used to ride a motorcycle around Italy, studying the wine country and writing poems that are far more important and significant than, say, the further existence of the sun (see above). That’s what this critic is saying.
...you better listen the fuck up!
To save myself when I consider how preachy I can be here sometimes, I always fall back on “The work.” What did what you wrote, or read, make you feel? Why did you feel that? What does it tell you about yourself and what does it tell your reader about him/herself? Because in the end, we’ll all be dust and our work may or may not outlive us, but rest assured, you will NOT outlive your work . . . especially if you listen to a critic telling you how great or awful, how important or insignificant your work is, and allow that to guide you —
Just one old writer’s view (that happens to be right!)
image courtesy of Pereanu, Sebastian, Unsplash