100 words on dangers of back-biting for a contemporary poet

Angry_Marshmallow_by_UnbridledPhotosIn 100 words today I’m talking of a distraction from the creative process – back biting.  Cultivating a fellow poet as an enemy is  like finding an angry Marshmallow in the bag. You really have to do a lot of work to find one and keep it found. You’ll discover succour by convincing others how you’re  held back or circumvented or pushed down or belittled or disgusted by the angry marshmallow. This gives you permission to squeeze that marshmallow with  No mercy.

Who is it for you? Is it the literary generation who came before you?   Maybe it’s another poet?  Maybe it’s a publishing house, a writers group, a writer’s agency, a magazine, an actual trend, or a whole movement? This heat seeking  behaviour has no obvious  teacher or direction therefore it must be true.  At first  it is not directed at  a person but eventually a person is found as a suitably representative  target. It will always engender a reaction from its target. This will serve to compound the theory.  Stick that marshmallow on a spike and turn it on the fire.  Gorge.  You will want more.  The buzz and sense of place from spewing out this food takes nutrients from you.  (Not long before you turn on your own self defined “tribe”.)

Setting up a false enemy as driving force is  the gift that keeps on giving. Apologies. I meant to say it’s the gift that keeps on taking. Here’s the newspaper review  “In light of the angry marshmallow this new poet shines”. And you may reply in your interviews “I saw the angry marshmallow and realized I am not what the angry marshmallow is so I wrote”. In one hundred percent of cases it is not true that a poet writes because of what they are not.

Lemn-4538 This damaging and graceless, loathsome, behaviour serves a  false sense of place and a false prophet.   Think of it like this: everyone is breaking new ground in his or her own back garden. Cultivate humility to the creative process as a gardener to the ground in an allotment. Get on your knees.Tend to the earth. Mix metaphor.  It’s not about the marshmallow. Look at the picture.

(supplement to the ridiculous marshmellow metaphor I’ve been on both sides)


2 thoughts on “100 words on dangers of back-biting for a contemporary poet

  1. Really good piece, and a warning to us all, whether creative or not. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of feeling your sense of disempowerment is due to someone or something else, and then feeding that loathing and angst, and staying stuck in it, like unhealthy co-dependent relationships, primarily based on a shared sense of hurt and loss leading to further entrapment and pain thus reinforcing the idea that the original damage is primary to their identity and cannot be let go of or transformed.
    As to creating, the issue for a lot of people is the need for recognition, when that doesn’t come or is faltering the sense of self and pride can be wounded and the need to appoint blame arises. It’s a sad situation and a toxic one. And yet many people suffer from it even when they are successul, then it’s called “professional jelousy” I think. Creating does require humility as you say Lemn and drive too, it can be a fragile life, particualrly with the ever prevelant need to earn, but ultimatley if it is who you are and what you should be doing you will find a way, and keep finding ways to make it work. Fear of faliure kills art, you have to accept you are always in the process of becoming and give yourself over to the journey. Much great art is lost to the world through lack of courage.

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