By the time one has learned how to live,
there isn’t much time left to profit
from what one has learned.
And it’s too late to still be learning,
too late to still be burning,
to come to terms with the past
by learning the easiest things last.
Gissing, Orwell, Kafka, Lawrence: What do these distinguished authors have in common? They all produced a lot of great work, certainly, but surely their most important unifying quality is that they were all younger than me when they died. I have now lived longer than a lot of people who achieved a lot more than I am ever going to achieve. Taking into consideration how much time I have already wasted and how much time realistically remains – and how much of that remaining time is likely to be wasted – then that situation is unlikely to change. Even if I devoted every available remaining hour in unswerving devotion to this unrequired and rewardless task, it would still be impossible to ease the margin of defeat and offset the overwhelming backlog of lost time. It is no longer possible to measure my own lack of progress by that of other authors who started ‘late’. I have now surpassed them all. When ‘they’ talk about an author’s career taking off, and their ‘finally’ producing the work for which they are rightly revered, the author is always at least ten years younger than I am at time of said ‘take-off’. There are others who seemed old when I was young, who started to produce work at a sensible age and have continued to produce it; they have been old for a long time, whereas I have been young for a long time, because I haven’t started yet. I have spent twenty-five years preparing to start. And it’s not as if I haven’t spent all this time struggling with literary endeavor; it’s just that I haven’t finished anything. Well, that’s something: a point from which to recede.
Shakespeare, Proust, Kafka, Camus, Orwell, Gissing: What do each of these distinguished authors have in common? They all produced a lot of great work, but surely their most important unifying quality is that they were all younger than me when they died. I have outlived Keats by a quarter of a century: that’s a morbidly sobering thought. But let’s leave poets out of this. In the time it took Balzac to write 91 novels, covering every aspect of the human condition in its myriad complexity, I have produced two very slender volumes of poetry, addressing a rather more limited sphere of activity… or rather inactivity.
I am honored to be included in the autumn edition
of Klipschutz’s exquisitely wrought Four-by-Two series.
It can be found (and ordered) here: http://www.fourbytwo.org/
Please join us in lamenting the publication of
ANTIEPITHALAMIA & Other Poems of Regret and Resentment
A new collection of poetry by John Tottenham
At historic Besant Lodge in the heart of Beachwood Canyon.
Saturday October 13th, 7.30pm
2560 Beachwood Drive, LA, CA 90068
A recitation will be delivered by the author.
Melancholic strains will be supplied by violinist Laena Geronimo.
Libations will be poured by Bitter Tears of Los Angeles.
This is John Tottenham’s second book: a sequence of mean-spirited love poems, and a meditation on the subjects of regret and resentment.
Books will be available for sale.
Absentees will be noted.
The Squat. 849 Haight street, San Francisco. Thursday, September 13, 2012, 7:30PM. Book Launch. In association with Penny-Ante editions.
Jarett Kobek and M Kitchell have written books: Come celebrate their release. Also, if you feel like it, bring money to buy their books. Also Elly Jonez, Lorian Long, and special guest, John Tottenham, who has also written a book.