Erasure poet Austin Kleon‘s keynote at SXSW 2014 should be required watching for every poet — especially the vampires and human spam, as he calls them, who are all about self-promotion, wedded to the false, romantic notion of the artist as lone genius. Kleon talks about how to “steal like an artist,” the importance of acknowledging one’s sources and sharing one’s work on the internet, and why we should emulate the great knuckle-ball pitchers. I’m being kept from my own work these past couple of days by a bad case of conjunctivitis, but this makes me impatient to get back at it.
There was a video going around the internet last year of Rainn Wilson, the guy who plays Dwight on The Office. He was talking about creative block, and he said this thing that drove me nuts, because I feel like it’s a license for so many people to put off making things: “If you don’t know who you are or what you’re about or what you believe in it’s really pretty impossible to be creative.”
If I waited to know “who I was” or “what I was about” before I started “being creative”, well, I’d still be sitting around trying to figure myself out instead of making things. In my experience, it’s in the act of making things that we figure out who we are.
Every book purchase says you want to read a certain writer and that the publisher should have confidence in him or her. In the case of poetry, a modicum of readers voting this way may even mean that a house decides to retain its poetry line rather than jettisoning it.
The comment thread for that post is also well worth reading.