I'm always fascinated by the lives of writers. One of my favorite things to do is read biographies of famous authors. Peter Ackroyd wrote a 1200-page biography of Charles Dickens. I've read that book six or seven times. I've read about Flannery O'Connor, Robert Frost, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, James Joyce, and e. e. cummings.
It's kind of a sickness, I think. I like learning about the struggles these artists faced. Alcoholism and mental illness and drug addiction. Flannery O'Connor's battle with lupus. Robert Frost's lifelong bouts of depression. Hemingway and bipolar. All of these great writers faced incredible life challenges, and, through those challenges, they created amazing things.
I suppose it has to do with facing human failings. Every great writer that I've read about has dealt with some incredible hurdle. I find that a little comforting. These great poets and novelists and short story writers are incredibly flawed human beings, and they transform these flaws into works that shed a little light into the dark places of the universe. Each of these people created their own testaments for the world to read.
That gives Saint Marty a great deal of hope.
He doesn’t speak this language.
He doesn’t know the voices of the wastes—
a soothsayer in stony sleep,
he is burdened with distant languages.
Here he comes from under the ruins
in the climate of new words,
offering his poems to grieving winds
unpolished but bewitching like brass.
He is a language glistening between the masts,
the knight of strange words.
|Everybody's a critic . . .|