Friday, March 09, 2007

Light my way

There was a poet in my MFA program, a quantifiably good guy but a bad poet, who became infamous. And then he became infamouser. And that double super infamy rose from one line, one word: bitter.

I'm becoming that line. And it's a drag. I mean, I wrecked my central nervous system at age 12 and was never bitter. It's not in me, it's not who I am.

But I'm getting there.


The phone interview seemed to go well but after recent events I'm not going to wager anything. It's a prelude to a campus visit, should they want to bring me in, at a nice southern/mid-Atlantic university, near to the coast.




Scoplaw said...

You're cultivating infamy? If this is something you're serious about, I can try to help you with it. We can start some rumors that you're secretly responsible for both the Iraq war and ug-boots.

Anonymous said...

we all have the opp. to be bitter...the girl who can't have normal sex because she was raped too many times...the man who cannot support his family...

it's whether you buckle down despite all this and work hard that, in my opinion, makes one have depth of character and a freer person...

bp said...

Yeah, Anonymous, because deep people can't be bitter, right? Being bitter automatically gives you a shallow depth of character? Can I get a "rolleyes" emoticon?

Paul, I strongly believe that our culture has this weird hang-up about being angry -- you're not allowed to feel angry, bitter, etc., even when some individual or group or the cosmos has spit in your face and laughed (which happens, to some worse than others). Obviously, you don't want to be consumed by bitterness, and as a practical matter a lot of people won't deal with someone who's outwardly always bitter. But (in my opinion, which may not be worth the cyber-paper it's printed on) the way to prevent it from consuming you is to acknowledge your anger. At least to friends, family, shrink. Go with it. Part of being a poet is being the kind of person who tells the truth (except for the fluffy "all suffering is sweet and yields buoyant imagery and affirmation!" kinds of poets, who can suck donkey kong).

The important thing (I keep having to remind myself) is to be sure to separate career accomplishment from poetic accomplishment. The career thing is full of unfair b.s.; in the poetic realm, only quality matters (though it may take a long time for quality to be appreciated).

On a positive note: you'll get a break. It happens for everyone, just at different times, and once the break comes, it can alleviate a lot of the bitterness.

Til then, fuck 'em!

Melanie said...

bp: the era of "anger management" is an interesting thing. . .

greg rappleye said...


Everything I thought of to say sounds stupid. But I did say a prayer for you and your job search.

Good luck.

Dr. S said...

The job market can make even the most idealistic people bitter (at least temporarily). It's really unpleasant when it makes you feel as though you're not yourself anymore. I got off the plane after my first job market MLA mad as hell, with nothing I could really do about it besides wait a year and try again. It sucks. I'm sorry things are like this right now. I empathize.

Your book cover is super-sweet, at least, and congrats about the prize, which happened before I started reading you.

(And seriously, if you want to cultivate infamy and you need some suggestions to add to scoplaw's, I'm happy to help, even though you don't know me. Maybe we could get you responsible for exurban sprawl or something, too.)

Leslie said...

Listen infamyboy, you are the reason anna nicole smith is dead and you drove ms spears away from rehab and I want it to stop.

seriously, paul, I've been on the sidelines of several searches and the thing that could make anyone bitter is that it has nothing to do with you-- abilities and qualifications don't mean anything in some of the searches i've witnessed. it is all about the department having a catfight and wanting more cats on their side. it is all about power and who gets to hire whose friend and who is afraid of a hire being better than they are (and you have some serious poetic mojo so who wouldn't be afraid) and who is the least offensive candidate.

but good people do get hired in good places. you will too.

Sandra said...

The difference between tired and angry (an understandable outcome of the job process) and being bitter is someone's external application of bitterness--in other words, begrudging success in those around you. But even in this simplified world of blogging, you've shown time and time again a happiness in celebrating the accomplishments of others.

Don't worry, you're still you under the frustration. And it was nice to meet in Atlanta, even just in passing--you were the very first person (and poet) I saw. I counted it a good AWP omen.