Friday, September 25, 2009

Daniel Nester thinks poets are ridiculous

Recovering poet (or reformed poet? Ex-poet?) Daniel Nester hates New York so therefore he hates America. Except he also hates poetry, which evens things out. Actually, I don't think it's fair to say that he hates either New York or poetry. It is, however, very fair to say that Nester is a dude with a finely honed bullshit detector and he doesn't like it one bit. Bullshit, that is. The whole detecting thing seems to be working out quite well for him. The whole New York poet thing, not so much.

As he writes in his essay "Goodbye to All Them" for The Morning News:
"I remember some night when I am eating a Mexican dinner in the company of a Famous Eastern European Poet. As we celebrate his reading, a member of our party starts to choke on her food. We laugh at first, but her situation escalates. Emergency medical technicians come in, stick a tube stuck down her throat. She is taken away in an ambulance. And all the while, Famous Eastern European Poet continues to eat his meal and speak with other famous poets. They glance back twice. The only explanation for why this Poet did not react to the woman choking on a bony burrito was it was messing up one of his few nights in Manhattan. I have no explanation, however, for Poets A and B sitting next to him, who continued their conversation on European literary festivals and the pros and cons of living in Iowa."
Reading this I can't help but wonder whether/suspect that I know folks like this.

So, okay, poets can be assholes. Whatever, etc. That's not the point. Or maybe it is, but I'm moving on.

It turns out I have two of Nester's poems in my collection. "Poem for the Novelist Whom I Forced to Write a Poem" appears in the 2003 Best American collection. "Third Maisie Poem" is in Isn't It Romantic: 100 Love Poems by Younger American Poets (I sense a theme here. Perhaps all of his poems have "poem" in the title and all are published in anthologies with American in the title. But probably not). I like both poems very much. Then again, it seems like Nester's poems have a lot in common with mine. Which explains, I think, Nester's disillusion with poetry. Or the poetry world. Or both. I think Nester and I would get along. Maybe his poems and my poems can get married. Or at least be friends with benefits. (For those of you thinking, "But, D'Anne, you're not into dudes," let me remind you that poetry knows no gender and the love of poetry is a love that dare not speak its name.)

I just bought his book of poems, The History of My World Tonight, online. Looking forward to getting it in the mail. It's been awhile since I had a book of poems I actually looked forward to reading.

Via The Awl. Thanks, Laura for the tip.

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