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Sabine Farm

My sister asked me a few days ago if I'm planning to polish and publish any of the pieces that appear here on Wild Keys. My answer at the time was, essentially, of course.

But I find myself rummaging through different aspects of the question. I don't take it as an oversight (the pieces have just been published — here they are) but as a statement about their worth: that, knowing me as the lifelong in-print aspirant that I am, Martha wonders if I intend to "do" with these things.

What indeed. Some are tiny slices of larger projects that might someday be print-published works. Some continue thoughts that were started in works that have already been print-published. Since publishing in the traditional sense is only partly within my control, my focus lately has been on everything but publishing. And as I get more and more connected on the web, I find myself caring less about the formality of publishing and more about participating in the larger conversation. I feel less fussed about the ownership of my words and more interested in what got me writing in the first place:

I want to get down (write/tell/show) what it (life/consciousness/dailiness) feels like.

So it caught my attention yesterday when Mark Bernstein pointed out this article which argues that an ideal economic "ecosystem" for the artist is one:

...which looks to a mixture of the traditional amateur, performance, patronage, and commission forms of payment.

Both Mark and "How Does the Artist Get Paid?" author Dan Bricklin raise important issues, but instead of drawing conclusions I am reminded of "The Sabine Farm," a poem in Anthracite Country (which I rate as one of the best single volumes of poetry ever), by Jay Parini:


You spoke of Horace on his Sabine farm...
... Through confident, warm years,
with kingly patrons tending to his needs,
he dug the perfect furrows of his perfect odes.

I know a few of us would surely prize
that farm. ...

My friend, we follow in the Roman colter's
wake but in our own ways, not really farmers,
but poachers on the farm Maecenas granted.
....Caesars in their private jets
want nothing of us now. ...
I pay my debts, as you do, with a shrug
and turn to cultivate the ground, protected
by the barbed-wire fencing of our prose.
Unpatronized, we groom this inward land.

April 16, 2003 in Weblogs, dailiness | Permalink


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