Michael Gottlieb / Letters to a Middle-Aged Poet / 14


How much of what’s gone wrong in our lives do we ascribe to either the quotidian vicissitudes that could and do befall any – and so many – of us or, alternatively… do we as poets, because we are poets, do we say this is, in a sense, something we’ve been ‘asking for?’

Is it something that is our fate? Devolving upon us for deciding to (‘daring to’ to sounds too bold) live our lives this way, picking these careers, this selfish life of a poet, heedless – to the extent that we’ve decided to be – heedless of others?

Or, on the other hand, to what degree are we faced with the conclusion that all the lousy things that befall us are due to something else? …That there is something inherently, unredeemably wrong with us? And these kinds of things are just fated to keep befalling us. And there is no escape, no remedy for it. And, perhaps, in some strange turned-on-its-head way, it is because we are, and always have been cursed in this way – and there doesn’t seem to be any better term to describe this condition – that is why, in no small part, why we ended up becoming poets in the first place?

The follow-on question that then – it seems – needs to be posed is this: has that choice of vocation helped at all? Did it make us better, smarter? Or, did it help anyone else?

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