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On a rational level, I dislike US-American literature.

On a less rational level, I’d like to be the next Terry Brooks. (Yes, there, I said it.)

The reason is quite simple – it’s not about the writers themselves, it’s about their writing contracts: If you want to make a decent living as a writer, you have to sell out, and that usually greatly affects the quality of people’s works.

Just to name a few current examples, George R. R. Martin, of A Game of Thrones fame would be guilty as charged. No, we couldn’t have the (supposedly) brilliant three-book version of A Song of Ice and Fire; no, let’s make a lavish seven novels, even if we have to stretch the action to the point where we run out of characters.

Or, T. C. Boyle. I loved When the Killing’s Done (we might hear more from it), but seriously, just how good would his stuff be if he took some more time to flesh his books out?

You can decide whether you want to have the nobel prize, or the yacht, but not both, I guess.

…Aaaaaaaaaaanyway, with US poets, it’s the same. I understand your reasons, but if you write fifty poems per year just so you can pump out one collection after another to keep your lifestyle, chances are, your poetry isn’t as good as it could be.

One of the rare contemporary exceptions that makes a poet that publishes a lot and still keeps a stellar level of quality would be John Ashbery, and he will be speaking on two ocasions next week, both of which can be viewed live on the web:


John Ashbery is a Kelly Writers House Fellow this season. Two events featuring him as a Fellow will be streamed live as webcasts.

1) On Monday, February 11, 2013, beginning at precisely 6:30 PM eastern time, J.A. will give a reading.

2) On Tuesday, February 12, 2013, beginning at precisely noon eastern time, I will interview J.A. and will moderate questions and comments from a live audience at the Kelly Writers House and a worldwide audience via webcast.

I will watch it.

I warmly recommend you consider watching it, too! 🙂

Here is also a link to a comprehensive, if dated, introduction to Ashbery and his work: