Thursday, December 06, 2012

At home relaxing in my mother's house. Trying a little self-promotion on facebook and it sometimes makes me uneasy, even queasy. Anyone from El Paso's lower east side knows that bragging isn't a cool thing, but alas this is the corporate, capitalistic way to "success." Ugh. What is success anyways? A child of the eighties, the "me" generation, I was immersed in the cult of success, and here I am at 47, soon to be 48, quite "unsuccessful" in terms of income, prestige and power. I feel lucky. I wish we could eliminate this need to succeed at every turn. Freedom, it seems may come when we let go these foolish notions of success. It's difficult when we are feeding wounded psyches through this need to be fulfilled by external forces, rather than being fulfilled within ourselves as we are.

This missing core, the damaged self, seems to want to pump itself up with acceptance and even praise from others. We must, in the end, praise and celebrate ourselves. There is this notion I think that people should behave certain ways online and in public, but the fact is there are very damaged people in this world. Recently people have been hyper-critical of a poet, a Pulitzer Prize winning poet too. They use words like "paranoid" and "unstable" to describe him and when people seem to sympathize with him, I understand why Nietzsche despised pity. They say most poets have been hurt or damaged in some way, and I think poetry by its very nature is about a person's need to have a voice, to be heard, and nowhere does that spring forth more than from a difficult and alienating childhood. I sense have a lot in common with this despised and now pitied poet.

Secretively, I cheer him on at times because I understand the rage, the feeling of outsider, the frustration with not being heard. And more importantly, I agree poetry has all too often become an insider's game, an academics game, a game of who-knows-who, but today I have hope! Hope because I sense most everyone is feeling the same way no matter the amount of their "success." Even a Pulitzer Prize winner gets fed-up with the goings on in Po-biz. I think most poets feel themselves outsiders to a degree. I think people
are focused so heavily on the mental illness of said poet, they cannot see the forest for the trees. It's true that unseemly behavior is uncool, but there is indeed, in my opinion a whole lot of whopping truth about what this man said. This is of course true in part because I am not in academia, and have never really been "accepted" and this stirs those feelings of shame and alienation.

This need to have a voice springs forth from having been silenced, and this too can happen culturally. Being of mixed-heritage makes it even worse I think because one can not fit in either culture or ethnicity. One is always at odds with "success" and "fitting-in". This is why large groups of Latinos band together in poetry land. It is necessary. And at times, unseemly behavior seems necessary, but of course diplomacy is what's needed? Sometimes I think diplomacy has Latinos getting crumbs from the literary world. Not only crumbs, but stale crumbs. When the likes of big name poets only know one Latino name, we have a problem.

Overall, my wandering through the field of self-promotion has me still feeling awkward, foolish etc. But one must press forth and shout out one's "successes" from the rooftops? I'm not so sure. I have to think further on this. There still, it seems to me, seems something unseemly about the whole thing.

I am very lucky to have a supportive editor and a supportive press at this point in my life. It was very much needed. Now, I will look through the mock-up of the book and press forward. All is well. I am very blessed when this book comes out, and I have to  not let the fears of invisibility overrun myself. Be still. Meditate on the good things you have in life I tell myself. There is so much to be thankful for here and now. In my hometown the weather is phenomenal. Now, I think it's time to get to work.

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