“Fiction has a truth exceeding that of history”
There were two of them, intellectuals, who’d arranged to interview him. One had Susan Sontag’s eyebrows, sign of a serious mind, and a symmetrical face. The other, with unfashionable bangs, had narrow pinched cheeks leading to a pointy chin and the severe myopic squint of someone too long at the books. They wanted to make sense of, or cash in on, or both, the myth of the avant-garde. They were quite naïve and prime examples of white privilege university educations. He had to explain to them the difference between the ‘look at me I’m writing a poem’ school and the homo-fascio anal retentive school also known as the flaming assholes. Clumpers vs lumpers. The problem was conflict of information, info wars, which side do you believe, and there are always more than just two sides.
“Poetry ponzi schemes!” he’d railed, conveniently ignoring his own poetry ponzi schemes, excusing himself for being a low key mom and pop variety, not the franchised noose that NAIF or even Iowa represented.
He’d talked about poets who had made it big in stand-up comedy or as shock jocks. They were the right kind of sociopath, the unerring eye for human foibles and weaknesses, and the sadistic pleasure of pointing them out to a room full of quivering masochists. As well, pointedly, he’d attacked the MFA scene, a debris field around an academic body as a stew of neurosis where everyone was very polite while they stabbed you in the back, with the exception of the occasional hot knives who cut through all the envy to effortlessly secure the prime academic closet, assured by the knowledge that they had made the right moves, dodged or denied the petty backbiting scandals while launching preemptive forays against troublesome associates and rivals. And if that weren’t the worst of it, they ended up teaching a Mainstream Am-lit buggered by the Brits while fellating the French. As a consequence, poets, generally perceived as ivory tower dreamers and underpaid to the point of extinction, were among the most vainglorious and unforgiving in matters of placement at readings, or in the queue for appointments, inclusion in anthologies, residencies, associate professorships, and free lunches. It was for that reason, and fear of joining the ranks of “poetry church mice,” perennially going on their appointed academic rounds on campuses all across America, repeating the bleats of a penned flock fleeced by a cynical unrepentant patriarchy, that he had shied, with a few exceptions, at offers and opportunities to conduct workshops, give lectures, the kind of thing that brought him in contact with potentially clueless however ruthless ambition.