Poetry and the Memory of Fame: On Accidental Anonymity

2015-09-02-1441209940-5632057-ThomasMcCarthy2015.jpg

I once felt quite famous as a poet. Indeed, now that I think of it, I have felt famous twice. These two periods of really unsettling fame came back to me recently as I dealt with a young poet at the lending desk of the public library where I've worked for over thirty years. The young poet had been coming into my city-center branch for over a year, dropping grease-stained envelopes stuffed with five or six poems and then returning a few days later to listen to my responses to his raw and energetic work. But there was this one morning when we'd had a very strenuous, useful exchange of ideas around his improving technique. In that pause when a conversation just ends and an older poet adroitly excuses himself, the young man suddenly said to me: "You know so much about poetry; you read it so closely. Have you ever thought of writing anything yourself?"

Read the full piece on the Poetry Foundation website.