Also, I’m a not-so-good writer. I’ve done plenty of readings, many of them back when I drank. Here’s one that was actually recorded of me after I sobered up, and without my glasses. It’s at the 2007 Urban Epiphany, which I believe is still held every year here in Buffalo. Each reader got like 5-10 minutes, if I remember correctly, but I was cut off after 4 very short poems (I read some socio-political poetry, or poultry (chicken-shit scribblings)). Someone, I have no idea who, posted my segment as an MP3 online. Here it is.
I started off with a good, rather ambivalent poem, “Altruistic Narcissism” (listen to Mel Bosworth read it here). Everyone laughed, though I always thought of the poem as sad. Anyway, it gave me a boost of confidence, because it is kind of a funny poem, so I really had the crowd there—for a moment. Then, the next poem I read was “Wal*Mart Families for Friendly Fire” (read it here, along with some other poultry), and they didn’t seem to like that. The crowd’s liveliness turned immediately to quiet animosity.
I remember the organizer/host/MC, Celia White, waving at me from the back of the room to stop after the fourth poem, which I kind of figured would eventually happen after the Wal*Mart piece didn’t go over so well. I'm not sure if this was an ideological clash, or just something she deemed inappropriate at a poetry event. Either way, I got the hint. So I said, “Time’s up,” and sat back down, feeling a little embarrassed.
I’d been sort of shunned before, but never while reading. People clapped, I feel, mostly because I wasn’t going to read anymore—or just to be polite. I have no idea who posted an MP3 of this on the internet, because it seems separate from the photo gallery of all the readers from that day. Anyway, thank you, whoever you are.
I wasn’t really even writing fiction then, as my focus was mostly politics. Not that politics are absent in fiction, but I think fiction, for me, offered a more subtle outlet for expressing political ideology while, if at all possible, contradicting that same perspective. I’ve since gotten away from feeling it necessary to incorporate socio-political convictions into a text, when it will obviously emerge somehow unconsciously, despite my intentions.
Does that mean authorial intentions are unintentional? How ignorant am I compared to Kant, Hegel, Marx, Adorno, Propp, Parker, Berube, Freud, Lacan, Derrida, Foucault, etc? Quite, though they can all be just as silly as I am.
I’ve still got a lot to learn. I once heard a scientist on television say, “You’ve got to know an awful lot to be ignorant.”