Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Literary Genres

I don't know if it's because of envy or what, but sometimes I find myself getting irritated by writers who, having achieved a successful reputation in one genre of literature suddenly switch to another. And find even greater acclaim there!

I'm thinking of people like Atwood who had a fine reputation as a poet before she began publishing novels. Ondaatje went the same route. Nowadays the poems that they publish are few and far between. They concentrate on the novel; that's where the glory and the money are. As representative of those who continue to struggle in their original genre, I sometimes feel that we have been discarded. Poets and their work are not worth much to a modern society. It must be fed on massive tomes of prose.

It's not that I write only poetry. I've written some fiction, some non-fiction, essays (some of them, like these blog entries, short and pithy.) My problem, if "problem" it is, lies in the fact that I believe in poetry. Any other writing is, for me, an adjunct to my single purpose. I ride the horse I bought and am not looking to trade for one more handsome or stronger.

Once I wrote most of a novel. It had reached just over a hundred pages, when I lost it. I considered beginning it over again but figured that if the forces that control the universe saw fit not to let me bring that work forth, it could probably exist without it. No one will ever know.

I continue to compose, write, publish, and share poetry because I must. It defines who and what I am: a poet, not a novelist or essayist; a writer, not a singer or musician; an image maker, not an actor or dramatist. I can live with that, and do so gladly.

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