Lately reflecting on my "literary" life in 60s, 70s. Making slow headway toward some kind of prose, not sure what. Have a certain secret plan.
Wonder of the big Padgett/Shapiro NY School anthology (for a Minnesota high school student) - this was poetry-out-of-school (or seemed to be). I loitered there a long time, soaking it up. In high school english class, on the other hand, poetry was serious (ee cummings an exception). Shades of ancient times.
In high school I was active in the Literary Club. I ended up editing the literary magazine (called Talisman - before the other Talisman). Boys in suits & ties sitting around with faculty advisor, listening to each other's creative efforts. I remember one evening we met at Wendell Willkie's fancy house (he was a senior - nephew(?) of the onetime Pres. candidate). We were like a miniature clone of 40s-50s-style East Coast literati. The teacher smoked a pipe.
After that, going to college (Brown) in 1970 seemed a little like going to summer camp or second childhood. And in a way, the NY School poetry I loved encouraged that sort of mentality. But there was a subtle poison interlaced with the charm.
What was this poison? Well, I'm thinking today that the NY School shared something with Abstract Expressionism : language applied as a kind of screen or free unregulated autonomous space. And the poet who applied it was undergoing (unknowingly, for the most part) an initiation of sorts.
The odd thing is that as a junior-high & high-school adolescent I had a more "normative" or unproblematic sense of the literary artist's vocation. From a very young age I was able to write creative things in a school setting, & attract people's interest, attention & approval. It was a kind of magic, it gave me a kind of mana or social role. I was the "writer".
I think it was in college that the regressive/dreamy/childish freedom I was soaking up (through emulation of the NY poets) - the supreme autonomy of the very goofy poems I was deliberately writing in great numbers & great speed (freshman spring that year was a juvenile annus mirabilis) - I mean the social weight & implications of the direction my "vocation" was taking - started to come home to me. That was a long sentence I just wrote. What I mean is, things got (surreptitiously) more difficult.