Poets to Come

Tonight I was filing through my library in the basement to try and find something to read.  The last three books I’ve tried to start have been false starts, mostly because I had a hard time getting into them.  When that happens, 98% of the time I can’t just power through, I have to stop and try something else.  So, going through my collection in the basement, I came up with 5 books that I have read, but through the magic of ECT, are new to me. In no particular order, they are:

“The Art of Racing in the Rain” by Garth Stein (actually I read this book just over a year ago, but I loved it)
“The God of Small Things” by Arundhati Roy
“Nothing Special; Living Zen” by Charlotte Joko Beck
“Plath: Poems” Selected by Diane Wood Middlebrook
“Leaves of Grass” by Walt Whitman

The last two are primarily for reference for me and the things I write.  I don’t plan on reading them cover to cover.  But, after opening “Leaves of Grass” at random spots and reading a poem or two, I find myself humbled.  I can’t help but wonder at what people were thinking when they originally gave his works poor reviews.  I know that it doesn’t always take a poets 50-100 years for their work to be appreciated.  I look at Maya Angelou, Nikki Giovanni, and even Allan Ginsburg and I can see that time frame is inaccurate.  Then I look at myself and I start to wonder whether or not I might become famous for my writing.  What do I have to do to get my work in front of the right person?  Who is that right person?  And of course, it wouldn’t be a good course of self examination if I didn’t ask the ultimate question:  Am I good enough to even be mentioned with the likes Whitman, Plath, Angelou, Giovanni and Ginsburg?  I guess only time will tell.

Here’s one of my favorites by Whitman, as an inscription to “Leaves of Grass”

POETS TO COME

Poets to come! orators, singers, musicians to come!
Not to-day is to justify me and answer what I am for,
But you, a new brood, native, athletic, continental, greater than before known,
Arouse! for you must justify me.

I myself but write one or two indicative words for the future,
I but advance a moment only to wheel and hurry back in the darkness

I am a man who, sauntering along without fully stopping, turns a
casual look upon you and then averts his face,
Leaving it to you to prove and define it,
Expecting the main things from you.

———-  I feel like Whitman has thrown down the gauntlet with this inscription.  Now all I have to do is try to live up to that challenge.  Damn!

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