And it's true, people do love an author bio that's all, "Kevin Crood-Mons has worked as a garbage collector, a taxidermist, a pretzel vendor, and a blood-bagger." But I always thought those bios played to the worst instincts in readers--snobbery, voyeurism, and total incredulity that a Blood-Bagger could ever have ascended into the Literate Class. As far as I can tell, the only truly necessary qualification for the Literate Class isn't money or background or even education, but intellectual curiosity. Granted, people who are intellectually curious tend to pursue more schooling, but some of us have...problems...paying attention. Some of us get a monster in our stomach when someone starts to Explain. Some of us have ass-imps that make us unable to sit still. And some of us, when asked to write a Serious Paper, end up writing, well, something like this!
(Me: Before you say anything--no, I don't have ADD. My brother has ADD, and he got kicked out of Montessori for escaping to the basement and peeing secretly all over the floor.You: Well, everybody's different--you can have ADD without peeing secretly in a Montessori basement.Me: Shut it, no you cannot! Peeing secretly in a Montessori basement is a primary ADD symptom. I read it in a college book.)
My other issue is one of authenticity: how uneducated am I really? How far outside the academy am I really? I'm not a gross coarse dwarf in a jewel mine, shut away from sunlight and Blonde Jesus--I know what's going on. I read much of the same material that MFA students read. Can you really say that you're outside the academy if you spend your days poring over books?
What I'm mainly missing, I know, are mentorship and connections, things that I would love to have. I'm sure I would thoroughly enjoy an MFA program--all that time and all that talk. I'm not opposed to MFAs on principle; I just lack money and an undergraduate degree, so an MFA is out of reach for me at the present time. Is it really so unusual, in the current climate, to have only a high school diploma and be pursuing poetry "seriously," whatever that means? Anyone else out there? I admit I never even thought about it until last year, when I was a finalist for a Ruth Lilly fellowship and a Discovery Award, or a Discovery/Boston-Nation Prize Review Award, as I like to think of it. I knew for a fact that I wouldn't win either of those things, but when I looked up the winners and saw how heavily credentialed they were, I had a sad sinking feeling. Not an "I deserved to win and they didn't" feeling--they were very talented and I firmly believe that we're all in this together--but a sudden understanding that I was at a disadvantage in certain ways. That had never occurred to me before, because I have the mind of a child.
Any thoughts? I have to get back to the pigs.