You can define a persons career trajectory by the work they turn down rather than the work they accept. When talking to a poet on the scene – whatever one of those is – ask them what work they have recently turned down and you will get a truer picturer of how successful they are. If they’ve got anything about them they’ll tell you to naff off. But you see what I mean. It is not a cynical approach. What is cynical is the festering desperation for success and the crucially limiting short term criteria therein which limits most poet-to-poet conversations to “so what are you up to”. This is possibly rubbish and I am probably over analyzing what is a natural question for one poet to ask another, but more often than not it bores me. Not that I want to bore you talking of what bores me. Doh!
The term famous poet is an oxymoron. I know many people who are truly famous in Britian. While I am on this subject matter let me continue. The oft asked question “are you busy” illicits the desperate response from an artist wanting to give the right impression “yes, there’s loads going on”. And yet
the most successful people I know never seem busy. People around them are busy but they in themselves are not – their life is filled.
Success is doing what you want to do, making time to do it wth the people you want to do it with. I am available to what I want to be available to. I am unavailable to what I want to be unavailable to. I grow in my own time and correspond with the diaries of those I want to correspond with. I am honoured to spend time with highly creative people. If creativity is of God then they are angels. Creativity is like the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is the gland which allows goosepimples. It relates, it is said, to when our bodies were covered with hair. This physical gland responds to emotion creating goosepimples and The Shiver. Seeing great art, feeling love, or loss can all cause The Shiver which correspond directly to The Hypothalamus. i use it. What I was trying to say is that creativity is primal! Tapping into that – being accountable to that – is where success is. You might say “in the real world we have to correspond with systems”. I know but systems are only ways of accounting for creative ideas, not the oher way round. It’s a worthwhile reminder.
I’ve just been asked to be British Council Writer in Residence at The University of California, Los Angeles, (UCLA) in the department of poetry and poetics. Did I
turn it down. Not a chance. But then, you didn’t ask the question.