Saturday, August 08, 2009

All Poets Are Thieves!!!

Dateline, Tri-state Area (NYC, NJ, CT)...

I enjoy misnomers, especially when they are used by me. No, Virginia, not all poets are thieves and some are quite affluent, by birth or art endowment. These types don't need to steal literally or be tempted to do so. But many writers whatever the material shapes of their imaginations must peddle their wares and lives in quiet or noisy desperation. They do not necessarily wish to join the ranks of the financially comfortable and very few would be inclined to steal a penny, a pen, a penthouse, what have you. For any artist any decade, any century, it is, in general, tough to survive the world and striving with expenses and extra-artistic labors to make ends and odds meet can be a genuinely disconcerting life-long condition. Comparatively, it might have been easier in past decades, say, the seventies, to live cheaply in the tri-state area, the waters have always been rough, here, there, everywhere. Yet now it is more difficult and Mayor Bloomberg, if his vision of New York City as a haven for the aristocratic elite and no one else can be related back to classical philosophers, is like Plato, inadvertently* banishing the poets and all other artists to the margins or the sub-suburbs.

Manhattan is treacherous for the creative mind not equipped with a hefty check book and some neighborhoods seem peopled with the folks e.e. cummings warned us about: "...the Cambridge ladies who live in furnished souls/are unbeautiful and have comfortable minds..." For "Cambridge," think "Soho" or most other neighborhoods south of 96th Street. One can only hope that Poet's House, Stanley Kunitz's marvelous institution, can redeem the upper end of Battery Park City, when it relocates there very soon from 72 Spring Street in what real estate developers call "NoLita" and poets call "lower East Side." The new location is one of the unpoetic spaces in Manhattan so I hope its presence can miraculously bring beauty where now only the nouveaux riche and Wall Street execs prance about the corridors of their eco-friendly luxury condos in unbeautiful ungestures to culture.**

* I do hope Bloomberg is not intentionally wiping out artists or the working-class. What's your take, o reader?

** The other half of Battery Park City, Gateway Plaza and downward, still has charm, some fine people, and persevering sense of cosmopolitan self.