I really don’t give other people’s poetry a lot of time. Someone said I was “channelling Kerouac” recently and I was like “hmmm, yeah, should really get on that.”
It’s not that I don’t appreciate other people’s writing; I do, so much. But mainly novels, stuff I know I couldn’t do. Poetry for me is about summing up exactly what you felt in a moment, or trying on another skin and reporting on how that is. It’s pretty darn personal, so reading someone else’s go at that seems a bit weird. Like trawling a stranger’s Instagram and commenting on every single vulnerable selfie. But a poet doesn’t put themselves out for derision, just indifference. I’ve certainly never seen cruel trolling on a haiku. No, you’ll feel it in the silence.
Recently I saw someone reference the fact that we read our own writing over and over. I do, a lot. No one gets me like me. Is that wrong? That to me is the very point, and feedback is a recent phenomenon for a poet.
I see the stuff on the hellopoetry.com homepage. I glance. It bores me, because hey guess what? I didn’t write it. Other people’s poems are generally as interesting as other people’s dreams: not. I find it very hard to be an active part of the poetry community because it feels like being an active part of the local village hall crafting community. Maud loves her bug-eyed felted cows but everyone else thinks they’re so tediously ugly that they want to puncture their own eyes with a knitting needle rather than look at them. I’m not a nice person for saying it but the self-centredly centred, boldly bolded, irritatingly italicised, lovingly lowercased bollocks that’s clogging up this internet is upsetting to me. I just can’t get involved.
So why get involved? Well, narcissism. Obviously. I need the feedback. We all love being special and I think we’re mostly idiocentric enough to not check out if other people are getting the same attention. That would kill our buzz.
It’s not fair of me to love the praise and then be a bitch about where it came from. I haven’t even looked at the work of the people who have complimented me; I can’t be bothered and I also don’t want to find it lacking because then I’ll feel even worse.
This doesn’t end with a resolution or any self-improvement. I always feel that awareness is half the battle, which makes things a lot easier because you can feel OK about yourself without having to do anything.