In thinking about why I write (poetry or whatever) I've often thought about the relationship between the substanceless emphasis of the new in the wider captitalist marketplace and the emphasis on the new (via Pound)in innovative poetics.
It seems there is a danger in equating (or conflating) the two.
On a personal level I think I write because I want the experience. Much like I listen to music for the experience. Yet, unlike innovative popular music, poetry has a long history of puffing up the writer (often to exclusion of ethics). This puffing up in the name of the advancement of art strikes me as needing to go out the window. An idea (or an excuse) that has stuck around too long.
Now, I am not saying art should be judged on the ethics (insert your ethical code of choice) of the author/creator. Only that the production of art should have some bearing on a lived life. Or else it's just empty worship of art (much like mainstream religion).
So what is the experience? For me, it is mostly a non-rational experience that others have written much better about (duende etc.) But what about the ego of the creator? Is creating art a selfless act (insert your favourite priest here)?
Everyday I have all sort of angst in terms of actually writing. It comes and goes in waves. A void. A razorwire walk. Mostly it's the nagging question of: am I doing anything worthwhile? Sure I love it but it's also a lot of work. I could toil a lot less and produce little poems about/to myself. I want excellence. I want to enable myself through writing with/through the work of others. I want to feel a part of a community of other poets and artists. But do I want immortality via my writing? In other words, where is my ego is all this?
Maybe the strategic marketing and creation of audience/reception of Zukofksy, Berrigan, Creeley and Olson is good. Why get pushed around? I guess the trick is pretending you don't have an ego because you're a poet and poets are only about art and art isn't about anything as gross as the acquisition of power, capital etc.
We've all heard that poets can't sell out. There's no money so how can there be power? Well, there's cultural capital (maybe). But being educated in the western tradition of canonization, even when I deny its objectifing pull, I cannot help but admit a desire for relevance beyond my death. To leave something worthwhile behind.
What am I saying? I don't believe in THE CANON. All those dead white males etc. I don't believe in the static nature of the canon. The exclusionary nature of the canon (there's always crap in the canon). But I don't want that kind of canon. More like a canon. A canon with an emphasis on the indefinite (article) in all senses of the term.
The canon is organized around individual genius for the most part. Whereas various other canons (for example Jerome Rothenberg's Poems for Millennium anthologies) are organized around communities of poets searching for some type of freedom via experience. The search is ongoing.
THE CANON is a musuem of genius. A canon is a record of searching by commuities of artists.
Is my ego still part of the desire for inclusion in a canon? Sure. Like I said I want excellence in my thinking writing feeling seeing sounding etc. and I also want just a little bit of immortality. Which motivates which? I would prefer to focus on the excellence of a lived life. I won't know anything when they bury me.