Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Filthy Lucre

I came home this evening after a few days away to find the usual pile of junk mail and cranky correspondence waiting behind my door, plus a nice little cheque for a book review I did a couple of months ago.

I've published half a dozen essays, dozens of book reviews and poems and hundreds of political articles and leaflets, and I'm about to have a first book - a mixture of poetry and 'imaginative' prose - published, but this is the first time that somebody has been daft enough to pay me for my scribblings, and frankly I'm not sure how I feel about it. Perhaps it's making a virtue out of necessity, but I've always liked the way that the 'literary' scene, or at least the poetry subscene of the literary scene, has never offered its denizens any meaningful financial rewards.

I'm probably hopelessly deluded, but it seems to me that some of the fakery and conceitedness that infects other art scenes - I'm thinking of the visual arts, in particular - has always been minimised in the poetry world by the absence of money.
We're like All Blacks in the old days before professionalism - doing what we love, when we can, for the love of it. (The great Allen Curnow spoke of 'making a living in my spare time'.)

On the other hand, I am short of booze for the weekend, and the princely sum I have received for my deathless review of Jack Ross's latest should be able to buy me three crates of Southern Draught, my new favourite brew and the cheapest way to get drunk in Auckland at the moment...

[At this point I was going to insert a pic of the glorious work of art which is the Southern Draught logo at the bottom of this post, but the buggers who produce it are so cheap that they don't even have website - at least, not one I can find. I'll settle for a Ranfurly, which is brewed in my home town of Papakura and is easily the nicest fairly-cheap (as opposed to ultra-cheap) beer available in Auckland).


Blogger Sanctuary said...

Southern Draught? Ranfurly lager? I knew there were some compensations in my role as a sleeper agent in the heart of crony capitalism.

4:41 pm  
Blogger Richard Taylor said...

There is nothing wrong with making mone out of art or poetry - your "beef" ultimately is with Capitalism but if you overthrow that:you (or whoever) are still left with need to pay people - in the Socialist stage - so being payed in some way for what one does is important - of course the reality is that poetry itself doesn't have a high demand.

If you really needed money Maps you would do reviews for a living - you would do anything that earned enough -that is if Academia doesnt win out so to speak - (but/and) you are a "revolutionary" and I was at your age - approx - and I also spurned making big money (talk of money at one stage seemed heretical to me) - in a way I still do - but to make a good income is not wrong - - there is nothing wrong with having a good income - witness Curnow himslf - he was always quite well off - a good salary as a professor - he could afford to keep poetry as a "hobby".

I don't expect money from poetry but would be glad of any income I could get from that direction. The art (maybe with ref. to art in galleries etc) problem more complex - the problem is (partly perhaps) one of control maybe - and there is feel about poetry that it is done (almost romanticaly) for the love of it -and it is mostly (all creative activities are we hope)...complex questions -but perhaps reviews are a good way for writer to make money - as many poets or writers who are not academics or have not the main source of income - supplement their income with reviews etc

Good on you Maps in any case.

11:10 pm  

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