A Table on Trestles

Only briefly, roughly at nineteen, did I aspire to come out as a poet. Although I pursued the solitary vice from early adolescence on, I decided that a career as poet would be endemically depressing. A bit like Rimbaud except that I had written almost nothing.

There seemed and still seems to be an expected set of attitudes required to make it as a poet. Few of them were things I cared about — this to say nothing of the deliberate obfuscations I often found in contemporary poetry, as opposed to the lucid obscurities I sought.

Moreover, the moment is well over at which my poetry would have expressed the concerns and caught the eye of the wider, though still very narrow body which reads poetry, who all start out young and who care first and foremost about youth, or more precisely the fashions of youth, to which I can no longer pretend. In any event, my own practice developed slowly. For a long time, I wrote little worthy of print. I was also loath to pursue the publication of what was. In those years, my energies were also devoted to prose: first fiction, at which I was inept, and then the multilingual scholarship required for a career in comparative literature.

Scholarship is unfriendly to the creation of poetry, as is academic administration. While there are no doubt a few souls who can cultivate and nurture all of them, I did not prove to be an exception. Drafts, fragments and typescript versions of embryonic occasionally even finished poems piled up, but articles and scholarship took precedence, as did my work and correspondence as academic behaviorist, eventually as a Dean.

What is to become of this collection? Ultimately, of course, nothing. What is here will be  cast into pixels will flicker, then slip into oblivion (< Paraphernalia). That said, my modest will contains provisions for it to flicker on the internet for twenty-five years after my death. 

I think sometimes of Cavafy who avoided publication of his poetry, preferring to distribute it on broadsheets he passed to friends and those who were curious. I have this image of printed sheets of poems sorted out in piles on the improvised table of a board on trestles in a basement room.

Think of this site as such a table on trestles on which I have laid out my wares – for free.

G(eorge) M(aclaine) Lang