If you want to be the most important poet in America, don’t bother writing great poetry. It’s too time consuming. And even if you manage to write a great poem, all your other poetry will look worse in comparison. Instead, Jim Behrle told a crowd at the St. Mark’s Poetry Project, poets should devote themselves to relentless, 24/7 careerism. In remarks reprinted on the Poetry Foundation website, Behrle advises: “Your friends are really just contacts, and you have to think of them that way. If dropping their name isn’t worth anything, you may have to ditch them.” Poets should Tweet, Facebook, and ask for fame from friends and anyone who listens. According to Behrle:
How can you become the most important poet in America by tomorrow? It’s not as hard as you think. Poets used to have to pass out poetry-reading flyers by hand, one at a time, or publish poems one at a time in magazines, slowly building a career. But technology has changed all that. Now you can spam every poet in America with every new poem. Start a fan page for yourself and your books on Facebook. Blog about your every thought—they don’t even have to be astute thoughts. Most poets in America have boring office jobs in which they are screwing around on the Internet most of the time. Just mention the names of as many contemporary poets as you can in all your blog posts. You will catch all the self-googlers self-googling. Self-promotion is the only kind of promotion left. Without poetry reviewers to rely on, only you can spread the word about your product. And if you spread it suddenly, relentlessly, brutally, then you’ll have name recognition from here to Hawaii . . . and that’s all you need, because there are two kinds of poets: those you’ve heard of and those you haven’t. Almost all of us fall into the latter category, but not you! If only you take my advice.
(Thanks, The Awl.)
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