When you think of poets gathering together, what you see? What impression do you have of poets? Do all poets wear black turtlenecks, coordinating berets and dark sunglasses?
There appears to be a cultural impression of poets that promotes stereotype or mythos. Years ago I read a biography of a well established senior poet who was visited by a younger, celebrated poet of the next generation. The long-time partner of the senior poet observed that the younger poet was more enamored by the mythology surrounding the senior poet than the actual, published work of the senior poet. Similarly, our culture seems to have that perception of poets—they are more interesting to observe as an unusual creature of bizarre habits and deviant ways rather than an artist of lyric and verse.
Do you see that as well?
Another aspect to this impression informs young and/or aspiring poets that they need to act or behave in a certain manner because that is what culture dictates—that is how poets are supposed to act. If young/aspiring poets do not participate in the activity of cultural stereotypes, they tend to think that their craft is illegitimate and they will not be taken seriously for their poetry. Further, what impact will this have on the actual art created by young/aspiring poets? Will it change the subject matter of their work? And so on.
Has anyone else observed this?
This weekend I joined some local poets downtown. There were no black turtlenecks or berets worn. Someone did wear a pair of dark sunglasses. And no, it wasn’t me.