Michael Gottlieb / Letters to a Middle-Aged Poet / 4


But then what happens when, as will inevitably befall us all, as poets, should we live long enough, some come along who deign to supersede us; some who, we should be so lucky, acknowledge us, not ungenerously grant us our due and then calmly let us know that they are moving on?

Us, superseded. Us, a great deal of whose claim to fame was our decisive and dramatic rejection of all or, rather, of so much of what had come before us.

They have left us behind. They have taken off from our innovations, our revolutionary changes, our decisive moments – obviously they are beyond us now – and have hove off into the future. Where does that leave us? We were supposed to be the future.

However, truth be told, how long were we waiting for something else to come along, to succeed us, to move beyond us? For that quite possibly came to seen as the truest sort of validation our own project, since it would serve to confirm that the radicalism of what we were doing could not, in the long run, be institutionalized, but only digested and then subsumed.

So now they’re telling us, ‘thanks and we’ll take it from here.’

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