Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Buying Byron

Now that Lord Byron's letters are for auction at Sotheby's it gives us a chance to ruminate on the days when a poet had the same "larger than life" persona that a rock star does nowdays (i.e. Michael Jackson), given the communication constraints of the era of course. Aside from the always obnoxious and persistent commodity fetish we subscribe to the "things" of famous persons, the fact that this sale actually represents letters of a poet is grand enough. Undoubtedly thousands of people will pick up Byron, perhaps for the first time, and if some beauty enters the world because of it, then it's all good.
Our last American larger than life poet was arguably Allen Ginsberg, whose spiritual and to a large extent stylist mentor was our first grand, and much larger than life poet, Walt Whitman. If Walt were alive today he'd probably be a hip-hop artist or rock star. Poetry is quiet in America, despite the popularity of slams. But perhaps it is just estavating, waiting for the right person to come along. Someone large, bold, bad, brilliant, and very damn good.
My favorite Byron tidbit thus far, picked up from NPR, is his reference to Wordsworth as TURDSworth. Nothing like a smack-down to get poets into the limelight.

On other issues of proportion, check out the Book of Genesist illustrated by R. Crumb. It may succeed in giving back the bible (this book anyway) its elemental and perverse humanity.

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