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Tony Grist

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Poems Don't Pay [Mar. 2nd, 2017|11:34 am]
Tony Grist
Writing about Robert Lowell and how his work has fallen out of fashion, Max Liu suggests that "it’s not always easy to feel sympathy for an artist with a trust fund and whose family have their own graveyard." Really?  Seems a bit specious to me. Do we chose our writers by caste? Byron and Tolstoy were aristocrats too and it doesn't seen to have affected their popularity.

No-one- with the possible exception of Alfred Tennyson- ever made a living from poetry alone. Poetry isn't a career or a profession. It doesn't pay. And almost every famous poet you care to name either had a private income, rich patrons or a day job.  T.S Eliot was a publisher, Philip Larkin a librarian, Stevie Smith a secretary, Robert Graves a popular novelist. Wallace Stevens was so much the successful businessman that his colleagues didn't always know that he was famous for something else.

Lowell's inherited money freed him from the grind of the nine to five but it didn't guarantee him an easy life...

From: cmcmck
2017-03-02 12:25 pm (UTC)
Phillip Larkin was a librarian here in Wellington indeed and has a square (next to the new library indeed) named after him.

He hated the place because ordinary people dared to ask him about books..........
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2017-03-02 12:34 pm (UTC)
He was probably very shy.
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From: cmcmck
2017-03-02 12:56 pm (UTC)
Or full of class based arrogance which latter I'm more inclined to suspect.

Not a nice man, Larkin!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2017-03-02 01:18 pm (UTC)
Few poets are. It's odd, but apart from Walter de la Mare- who was a real sweetie- I can't think of any major to middling poet I'd have wanted to know socially.

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From: cmcmck
2017-03-02 01:41 pm (UTC)
I'd like to have known Thom Gunn and Joseph Leftwich was another sweetie who I did get to meet in his old age- meeting him was a direct link back to Isaac Rosenberg as they'd been friends before WW1.
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[User Picture]From: davesmusictank
2017-03-02 10:29 pm (UTC)
That was news to me. I have a biog of him that i have yet to read anyway.
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From: cmcmck
2017-03-03 09:41 am (UTC)
I didn't know until we arrived here.
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[User Picture]From: matrixmann
2017-03-02 01:00 pm (UTC)
Maybe that's what seems so strange to me seeing people desperately thinking they can all make it to make a steady income by their arts or the other things they deliver. Arts have always been an "unprofitable job", it's always been either you're a worker to somebody wealthy for his private entertainment or you've gotta do your arts beside your normal job - or you just live like a hobo, from day to day and your home's where you can put up a sleeping niché.
At least, if you try to be your own marketer while being the artist too, then it's like "What the fuck? What do you expect?" - it's not like you're the center of the world, everyone must look at you.
So, that's why I don't get it. Needless to say, if you got a big sponsor, then you've also got to do the art that he wants, not which you would want - and, if you've made it into that hamsterwheel, there's no real going back to another job life. If you haven't worked in the normal circle for a while, you get regarded like you haven't done anything at all.

Edited at 2017-03-02 01:01 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2017-03-02 01:38 pm (UTC)
Very true.

Once you're on the wheel there's no getting off- and you have to keep on turning out the product even if the inspiration fails.

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From: firdauss
2017-03-02 01:32 pm (UTC)

If the passion is in the fluidity of the flowing words in the poems it is a priceless life worth living...

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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2017-03-02 01:44 pm (UTC)
Creating art is its own reward.
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[User Picture]From: faunhaert
2017-03-02 03:08 pm (UTC)
family graveyard..
my cousin's family had one
but it wasn't a choice but more of a necessity.
with 2 pairs of twins that died at birth.
there were others buried there but I don't remember who.
its a few hours away and I don't know who'd be able to tell me.

they were just lucky they were farmers
and they had the land to use.

seems it is a rare thing to have a muse that
matches the best life circumstances or what the society values.
they seem more perverse and contrary.

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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2017-03-02 04:10 pm (UTC)
G K Chesterton said there wasn't a poetic type. Poets can be born into any class- or with any kind of temperament.
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