move into another world

December 5, 2018

I just disappeared. I do that. I move into another world, a different world. Like boarding a train running parallel. That’s what disappearing is. Don’t you see?

Haruki Murakami
Dance Dance Dance

Poets, I think, are inherently used to defending their work in a different way. They enter first-book contests on their own and hope a publisher takes an interest. They also have to make the case, constantly, that what they’re doing is valid. All artists face that, I think, but among the arts, I feel like poets have to do so much legwork, and so much time is spent defending poetry, broadly, as a valid pursuit while also advocating for their own work. Which is to say nothing of actually doing the work.
Also, there’s this insecurity that poets feel — and that I’ve definitely felt — because we’re lauded, exoticized, and fetishized as something that every society needs.

Historically, no society has ever been considered culturally significant without poets. The golden age of any civilization is synonymous with great achievements and output in poetry. Yet none of this lines up with the actual lives of poets today. We have no income, no material wealth, and nobody really treats us like we’ve got any cultural capital or value, even though, theoretically, poets are something to be valued and admired. I think that creates a really weird psyche — a disturbed psyche!

Jenny Zhang and Nate Brown
Every Day, A Funeral: Jenny Zhang and Nate Brown in Conversation
Los Angeles Review of Books