America (US) is such a great and good and democratic nation. Walt Whitman says so. Our literature today is produced en masse while following the fairest, strictest ethical protocols, using the most objective measures within completely standardized procedures of agonic literary contests, academic accreditation, absolutely appropriate recognition and financial underwriting. The Program Era has proven to be incredibly productive in terms of nurturing and supporting vastly diverse and talented young poets from all walks of life, who go on to publish widely, teach consistently, and interact with their audiences in healthy & socially-approved ways, applying the multifaceted dimensions of literary & creative methodologies in ever-new permutations of lyric and experimental modes of poetry.
Our powerful, thriving literary scene here in contemporary America only throws into sharper contrast the debilitated condition and existential cul-de-sac of Henricus Poeta Australopithecus (or HPA). Some critics have suggested that one motivating factor for the problematics of HPA is a possible high-count percentage of Neanderthal DNA in this primitif-naif pre-Program Era poet's genetic inheritance. Such indeed might account for the sadly hilarious exponential series of multiple social disconnects between HPA's view of his own rightful position in the literary sphere, and his actual degenerate, debased, humiliated, outcast, leprous, persona non grata, laughingstock non-status within the professional literary communities of our great land.
HPA has more than once been captured on video cursing his own Muse as "that stubborn hag", and indeed his professional career, if one can call it that, has been punctured and punctuated by extreme forms of masochistic counter-intuitive, illogical, unreasonable and self-defeating acts. Let us list just a few of the more egregious examples here in roughly chronological order :
1. HPA had the gall to begin writing poetry in the mid-1960s, before MFA programs became widely established. He "started writing" on his own at the age of 14 or so, "inspired" by the likes of ee cummings and Guillaume Apollinaire. For his undergraduate college application essays, he sent poems (the nerve!). Throughout his career, he has repeatedly objected to the notion that MFA programs are necessary - he sometimes even claims they are inimical to literature! He has been heard saying he could never teach poetry!
2. HPA has frequently been heard proclaiming, in a variety of terms & tones, that there is something sacred, miraculous, uncanny, autonomous, prophetic, socially-challenging, shamanic, different, authoritative, and world-shaking at the core of art, the beautiful, and poetry - & that poetry is sometimes a peremptory calling to step outside the boundaries of a society's customary norms of literary authorization. He has been heard to claim that poetry is a gift and a miracle and that no one will authorize, approve, or judge it - that, au contraire, poetry itself will be the judge. O the arrogance!
3. When HPA was a young collegian of 19 yrs or so, back in the early 1970s, he renounced poetry - because he believed that the ghost of Shakespeare had tried to communicate directly with him - through The Sonnets! Overcome by spiritual fright, HPA fled from the irrational abyss of this event, abjuring the art (like Prospero) for about 5 years - during which phase he successfully found God, ran a food coop and became a VISTA volunteer! He traveled to London on a dime - in order to join the Rolling Stones & convert them to Christianity! He bummed around the United States, a young Jesus freak! All this while the literary compeers of his generation were assiduously pursuing advanced graduate degrees!
4. HPA has published most of his poetry... himself!
5. HPA has the strange illusion that literary tradition is a holistic entity, a sort of human organism subsisting in Time, history, & cultural memory. Thus he began in the early 1980s to absorb the lessons of Eliot, Pound, Mandelstam, Brodsky and other outmoded "neo-Classics" - with the idea that democracy is beautiful for civil society, but that poetry is the dimension of the individual, the spiritual, the soul. He repeatedly quotes Mandelstam, that arch-foe of the social order of his time : "The Word is Psyche." Poetry, for HPA, is clearly a sort of Neanderthal fire-ceremonial : the engravement of the eternal Spirit in all its power upon the passing pageant of eras & centuries. He sits by his Classical fire-pit & mopes, while America freely & rationally produces an infinite array of poetic bouquets of the never-ever-changing New Wheel. He is a hopeless reactionary!
6. In the late 90s, at the dawn of the internet era, HPA dove foolishly head-first into the online squabbles of various poetic schools - & succeeded in offending and insulting everybody! He became known as a motor-mouth "commentator" - someone to be snubbed and derided for his clownish & unseemly behavior in the poetry community! & thus his literary "career" careered along, on its inexorably downward trajectory!
7. At some point in the early 1980s, HPA took an interest in the epic and the "long poem"... woe unto him! That cess-pit of failed eccentricities - the "long poem"! O HPA, your infallible instinct for the unachievable, the unrealistic! & to think he actually thought he was bringing the "American long poem" to a kind of apex, fulfillment & recapitulation! To think that Forth of July or Lanthanum might represent any kind of benchmark or accomplishment! What was he "thinking"? The industry is not looking for outriders, my friend!
8. HPA was the heir of a bygone era. His time is long past. & yet he persists in his endless reiterations of oblique & gnomic (rhyming!) ekphrasis - his latest hobbyhorse being, unsurprisingly, that backwater archive of obliterated glory, the city of Ravenna. Dante lies in his grave there, & HPA conjures his ghost, like an idiot caveman doodling graffiti on his private mental wall. No wonder no one in America will publish him! Read through this list of embarrassments & obloquy - this plethora of antic foolishness - & you will see why! This man belongs in lock-up, like his goofy sidekick in Stubborn Grew (what was his name? Bluejay?).
Recently a certain poetry publisher in far-off Australia expressed preliminary interest in actually publishing a sort of retrospective collection of HPA's poetic follies of half a century. There must be something in the Aussie water. Well, all power to them. This man is not fit for America - perhaps they can find some use for him in the former continental penal colony. We wish the Australians the best of luck - & with this warning : HP Australopithecus is a deep-dyed villain & Neanderthal. Hopefully the authorities in Sydney, Melbourne & the other southerly nodes of civilization & public order will keep this in mind.