Stop the Presses: I Am a Poet!May 25th, 2009
by Suzanne Burns
I just licked that big, all-consuming yellow envelope that holds, in its hopefully safe confines, my newest poetry manuscript. To be sent to an interested publisher in New York, a land almost as far, far away as Paris.
These are the first poems I’ve written in seven years. The first poems I’ve written that seem like grown-up, adult poems. (No, not adult in that way.)
Poetry is one of those things you either love or hate. I love writing poetry. I love reading some poetry. I hate listening to other poets read or discuss their love of poetry. Poetry, to me, is private, a little sacred, a little profane. Something to experience in the quiet solitude of your bed, late at night, when even your husband has no idea what you are up to.
These poems stem from our trip to Paris last year, but now I find myself delving into broader territory. This book makes numerous mentions of my mostly failed attempt to bake French macarons, my never-ending obsession with Marie Antoinette, Jim Morrison and Louis Vuitton.
Yes, I am obsessed with Louis Vuitton. I swear I am an aspiring Hollywood party slut starlet in the making. On a recent trip to Portland, four hours north and the closest place that sells designer handbags, I found myself on a rainy, blustery 2am wandering the dark city streets, my umbrella turning itself inside out from the wind, the cherry blossoms snowing down upon us, sticking to my glasses, when we rounded a corner and saw her! The white Murakami speedy clutch, gallery lit in the smallest boutique I have seen since I attempted to shop in Paris. (I could only afford ashtrays and refrigerator magnets.) The bag was intoxicating. Overdone. Overpriced. Overly delicious.
Are poets supposed to covet these kinds of things? I’m supposed to be stalking the rare book room at Powell’s. Or spending my money on pens and paper, or at the very least, computer ink. The bag was a rare beauty in Oregon, land of mountains and fishing and ubiquitous landscape art.
I realized that if I am ever to afford such ridiculously worthless things like designer handbags it is up to me to change the way the world sees poets, rewards poets. I want to be chased by the paparazzi after The National Enquirer runs a particularly compelling expose about my use of white space in a poem, my line breaks, my succulent sonnets and captivating villanelles. I long to call the paparazzi the “paps” as in, “Sorry I’m late for tea. The paps are on me again,” and not have one person wonder if I’m referring to something gynecological.
I want poets to get free parking spaces. Free donuts every Thursday from 1-3. Free pedicures. Free tattoos of lines from Sylvia Plath and Walt Whitman.
Is it asking too much for poets to be as revered as those dumbass athletes that are on five channels at once, the whole world enamored with men who toss, bounce or hit balls?
I’ll keep scribbling new poems in my bed, late at night, while the rest of the world is sleeping, dreaming the kind of dreams that include a combination of volleyball nets and Clamato.
Don’t worry all you other poets out there ready for your close-up.
So you better not smile.