25 oct. 2011

How Good A Poet Am I?

A kind of question like this cannot be answered. In other words, for oneself, in judging one's own poetry, there is no way of knowing. The exception is someone really, really good, like Frank O'Hara, who knew he was good in a more absolute way. I think Keats knew he had done it, for example. You cannot depend on friends either, because they will tell you your poetry is fine. One mystery is how poets who began to write crappy poetry in their youth still somehow knew that they had it.

The doubt about whether you are good enough is psychologically intolerable, because most people view talent as a kind of absolute "it" that one either has or doesn't. My own solution is not to be a "professional poet" whose ego depends on how good I am. I believe I am a better poet than you are, but this claim has no real consequences. I don't have to ride the wave of my poet's ego.