Michael Gottlieb / Letters to a Middle-Aged Poet / 10


What is the contour, the profile, the outline, the model of the life we’ve chosen?

Are we all one-trick-ponies, lucky enough when we are, or, rather when we were young enough to have managed to accomplish whatever it was we set out to achieve? And further, is it the nature of our activity, our profession, that we can never, should never expect to repeat that? That is, must we submit to the dictum that we each have had our own particular moment, one moment when we were in touch – in touch with something – and we should be grateful for that? Is this, in the final reckoning, a young person’s game? Or, is it one that follows some ineluctable arc An arc which may achieve its zenith sooner or perhaps a bit later but, whether that high-point occurs in one’s twenties or thirties or even forties, at some point – and definitely we’re past that point – must we accept that we are on the downhill slope?

Alternatively, might this indeed be, in fact, a life-long project, one that entails, that requires, that promises a life-long engagement – with the world, with poetry, with those who came before us, with those we came up with as well as those who came after us, as well as, well, ourselves? Is this a life which holds the promise, possibly, maybe, just maybe of change and transformation and the long-term possibility of value, of ‘relevancy’ (whatever that means) and of some sort of, dare we say, redemption? Is any of that real, possible, not absurdly banal?

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