Saturday, June 13, 2015

Why This Is Outsider Poetry

Insiders have been trying to appear to be Outsiders for a long time now. It's because there's no real nobility or romance to the notion that you kissed ass, followed all the rules, filled out all the proper forms, and any sort of reputation you have is based on public funding and the fact that you don't rock the boat. Politicians do this, too, decrying that they are for small government then accepting huge sums of money as soon as anything goes wrong. Academic poets disguised as small press, Outlaw, or Outsider Poets are the same pathetic animal. Just be what you are. Your snout is in the trough, your work would never stand a chance of being good enough to survive outside the publically funded realm, and you're willing to steal a title you never earned. If you go to college long enough they'll eventually give you a degree if you know a damn thing or not, but you can wait a million years on planet Earth and no one is going to accept that you're a real poet if you haven't done the work. Hell, even if you have done the work no one is going to give you the title if your work isn't good enough.

I pause for a poem or two, because I write them...

How Having a Kooky Uncle
Can Scar Children For Life

Watch the colors
The director's choice
Of colors
I yell
As a zombie
Buries canines
And incisors
Into a soccer mom's

Let's go to
The park now
They say

Ignoring my madness
The way the masses
Ignore a bum
On a park bench.

They'll be ok.

Natural Lighting

the generous
casts an enormous
shadow of my penis
on the
cold steel
of the
laundry basin.
-Thomas L. Vaultonburg

Now that's poetry. To be more specific, it's a couple notches above mediocre Outsider Poetry, for two reasons. The poet has no formal training or associations, and has a disability that has altered the path of his creative journey. Feeling alienated or left out is certainly a terrible feeling, but that type of self-identifying oneself as an Outsider does not make it so. When we refer to an Outsider Poet or Artist we're not speaking prepositionally, or giving them that label in reference to where they stand in the community as much as trying to identify what limitations and obstacles they face in first the creative process, and later in finding an audience for their creativity. I have a real distaste for those who double dip and want to identify with some sort of Outsider or small press movement, but then go inside the walls of the college and public supported arts system to feed at the trough, Feed, but relinquish your false claims of being an outsider.

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