Links on poetry and why publishing seems special

1. Tim Parks on how writers still get respect & authority in society — once they’re published:

The question remains, why do people have such a high regard for authors, even when they don’t read? Why do they flock to literary festivals, while sales of books fall? Perhaps it is simply because reverence and admiration are attractive emotions; we love to feel them, but in an agnostic world of ruthless individualism it gets harder and harder to find people you can bow down to without feeling a little silly. Politicians and military men no longer fit the bill. Sportsmen are just too lightweight, their careers so short-lived. In this sense it is a relief for the reader and even the non-reader to have a literary hero, at once talented and noble, perhaps even longsuffering, somebody who doesn’t seem chiefly concerned with being more successful than us. Alice Munro, with her endless, quietly sad accounts of people who fail to achieve their goals, gets it just right here. Exploring that sense of failure so many feel in a competitive world, she wins the biggest prize of all.

2. Writing by algorithm. Making metaphor mechanically — these metaphors can be surprising, but then, all metaphor is comparison, and comparison is arbitrary bullshit.

3. Poems by robots. I like some of these lines. I like poetry that finds surprises, that goes beyond first-person lyrical narratives, which these samples seem to.

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