There’s quite a discussion going on in the poetry world about greatness. Poets are all up in arms about who is great, what is great, and who determines such greatness. I liken it to all the hoopla over Jay Cutler and the rumors of whether or not he will be traded. Jay thinks he’s great–just ask him. The Broncos new coach, Josh McDaniels, thinks he’s great too–again he’ll be the first to tell you. And yet we have a power struggle between these two pansies as to who has more power, more control, who’s stronger, who’s greater. I don’t care. I don’t want the new coach to ruin the Broncos and I don’t want to have to listen to Cutler wine about not being cradled and coddled. I want good football. I want to root for my home team. And this is where I’m landing with this whole greatness-in-poetry debate.
Joseph Hutchison ended his greatness post with this thought:
Looking back over all the pixels spilled here, I wonder at the ability of us poets to tap massive energies for everything but our most important work!
This caught my attention when I read it, but then I came across an interview with Lucia Perillo in the latest issue of Poets & Writers. She doesn’t seem too preoccupied with her readership or the direction of poetry. She seems to suggest that if you write strong material (i.e. great poems) the readership/audience/relevance/greatness will take care of itself. I like Joe’s suggestion of the possibility of focusing our intentions on creation instead of fragmentation.
I’m not a great poet in terms of a numbered audience. I’m not a great poet in terms of a publishing record. I desire to be the greatest word smith, the greatest influence on the next generation of writers captivated by writing, the greatest student of poetics. But if that’s my goal, like Hesse’s Siddhartha, I lose sight of my whole purpose of writing: to materialize the abstract, to coagulate the ethereal. I may not ever be great in the world of poetry, but when I’m done fiddling with it, I hope that the world of poetry is in itself, greater.