Cultural reparations (Marfa, TX)
Never will I be invited to a residency at the Lannan Foundation. Never will I descend on Marfa, Texas for Chinati Weekend. I am uneducated and unemployable as any right poet should be. I am surely cynical, damaged and creative. Since I write for free and publish online; can I even be called a poet. No MFA here or Guggenheim fellowship, no list of printed publications or faculty jobs. I am not a member of the capitalist class so my conscience is clean yet my pedigree is nonexistent.
I am a lurker and a looker; watching, digesting and regurgitating commentary. Without audience, this cannot be art and I will never truly be an actual poet. As a distant onlooker of culture, I see who gets attention and who pays the bill. Your typical royal classes and their jesters dancing for amusement and advancement.
Those seeking grace from past sin fund the patronage and control appointments with privilege. These, I call cultural reparations, an effort to cleanse away liability. With equality in the air, women, indigenous and people of color are what's in vogue and on display. These groups, like me are outsiders to equity but unlike me; they can and may actually assimilate as they are corruptible. The once oppressed will rise to power only to become what they despised. Trotsky advocated for constant revolution for just such reasons. I seek only to sweep the grounds and exist as a volunteer visitor in the desert. A janitor who can only pay for his literary reparations in the form of menial labor.
Why else would they tolerate such an outsider like me, if not to fill the scenery and take out the trash. These sociological exhibitions are really what's worth seeing. Where winners amass and discuss their successes of exaggerated losses. Such high brow art as if cast nearby in brutal concrete. Such a similar approach solicits serious female, elderly and mostly ethnic women who are selected to create. An occasional male may be included providing his pedigree fits. I may be corrupted by jealousy of the sun and solitude while harboring these unhealthy resentments. These realities will fuel my literary pursuits.
Unlike these poet elites that get invited to Marfa, I lack the politics or ancestral struggle, no slavery or conflict; surely enough grit just not enough polish. I am spiritually lured there for I know that such annointed ink is a weighted medium that cures with permanence. Such academics this lot, who have not slept rough outside or hopped freights south. They are trespassers really; those who create narrative without ever actually living the story. Perhaps my struggles are equal and some day I too will have a period of decompression.
Perhaps the desert solace can heal my traumas and I too can write. Writing has always been a selfish pursuit for me, seeking betterment from my own tortured psyche. A literary therapy. A tincture of sobering compounds where I can express pain from past, present and future.