Monday, December 11, 2006

On Creative Communities

[10 December 2006 - E-Notes] Guest Sandra Beasley writes: I’ve been thinking a lot about notions of community, particularly in the context of being a poet—an identity which, no matter how many pages I publish or conferences I attend, always seems fragile and vulnerable to contradiction. If I taught poetry for a living, would I still call myself a poet? If I married, could my foremost loyalty remain to poetry? If I went to a city where no one suspected me of writing poems…would I write poems? Creative communities fall into three types: the immediate community one shares through local events; the (inter)national community one maintains through contemporary correspondence and an occasional visit; and the remote/historical community one consults primarily through published work. I think most poets, myself included, naturally gravitate to one of these groups for our main feedback and inspiration. But sometimes a shift in community occurs, by choice or chance. The laptop breaks and you go offline for two weeks. Or you agree to start hosting an open mic in town. Or you finally find a West coast lit mag you love, or you start a blog. With a blink, your context shifts. In my case, I took on an assignment to write essays for a Companion to Twentieth Century World Poetry (edited by Vicki Arana of Howard University). Suddenly the poets I were living and breathing were Pablo Neruda and Czeslaw Milosz—big, expansive poets, passionate in their sincerity and their criticisms of the world. Poets of exile. More

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