By Rich Owens.
Beyond reaching out occasionally to friends through correspondence, or hastily intervening in public challenges to the integrity of the intellectual work I support, I find myself shaken and walled into a paralysis by the brilliance and generosity I have encountered in recent months. For weeks now I have wanted more than anything to sit down and sketch out comments on the seemingly illimitable warmth and kindness I keep coming up against, but repeatedly encountering these generosities has productively embarrassed me, alerting me at times to shameful weaknesses and latent impulses within myself toward what I can only understand as brutally destructive self-indulgences that, however normative among certain poetry communities, are indulgences I have never been able to bear, i.e. the barbaric lust for recognition that market systems build into us or the desperate maneuvering some engage in to situate themselves on the fast track toward some vulgar imagining of success. In so many instances Jurassic hegemons driven by an irrational fear of extinction dominate the landscape, their efforts mobilized only to vigilantly police and extend the heavily militarized borders of their enormously self-satisfied but bone-crushing mediocrity. And then there are others, those whose bounding warmth and intelligence enables and even invites us to move among one another as comrades stomping in solidarity on the ruins of that vertical axis far too many poets are unabashedly hellbent on shimmying up. Over the past couple of months I have had the good fortune of moving among some of these others, of bearing witness to both their human kindness and the blinding splendor of their intelligence, and I would like to share with them not only my endless gratitude but also the extent to which I have been usefully shattered back into a debilitated state of total humility by the overwhelming force of their work. I mean this. As for the pandering climbers and self-congratulatory chimeras, this much must always be clear: poets and critics darkly illumined by the vampiric glow of celebrity look like a mass grave in the sunlight.
Elsewhere: Damn the Caesars.