Saturday, May 16, 2009

Poetry And Mediocrity

This brief post by Don Share, on mediocrity, is discomforting, to ay the least, although it also made me laugh.

I have tried shooting at targets (yes, seriously, I once learned how to use a gun!) and I have fired arrows at targets. As a teenager, I used to play darts for hours at a time in my bedroom and dreamed of becoming world champion. I wasn’t much good. I improved with practice and I enjoyed myself, but I never progressed beyond a very mediocre level.

At chess, I became a strong club player. I was pretty good. But I could have practiced for years on end and never become one of the best.

So I can relate to the photo at the link all the way. It’s true. However, when applied to poetry, things are more complex. You can see your own mediocrity on a target. The evidence is staring you in the face. In a chess game, you lose to stronger players. It's easy to keep track of how you're doing. With a poem, it’s harder to see. Other people might see it, but what do they know? Editors might see it, but who cares about them? Reviewers might rub it in your eyes like hot chillies, but, well, don’t critics all have chips on their shoulders?

The evidence is murkier, less easily defined. But the holes on that target are poems. That’s the truth.

Hmmmm. I guess I haven't really dealt with the stinging "and may even reinforce it" in this post...


Rachel Fox said...

I think this is probably the post of yours that I have most enjoyed reading.

Strange world, eh?


deemikay said...

When it comes to music, I've always told folk: "there's no such thing as talent, only practice".

And I always add: "That's what talented people say to make the untalented feel better..."

I sort of agree with the post. Sometimes people really have to admit that they can't do something well. Or even adequately.

Aditi said...

I didn't respond to your thread at PFFA on the same topic -- there was such a strong support for practice or perfect practice, as someone put it, that I was afraid I'd get flamed for agreeing with the quotation.

It's very similar to that genius vs hard work debate. I tend to believe that you can't be a genius without hard work, but just hard work won't make you a genius. It's a hard fact to accept. I'm constantly worrying about my own mediocrity.