Anyone who has seen Wayne’s World knows this line from the scene where the boys meet Aerosmith. I felt that way today when I finally had time to listen to audio of Katie Ford reading from her brilliant book Colosseum. (As with Patricia Smith’s Blood Dazzler, portions of this book deal with New Orleans and the emotional aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.)
I had the good fortune of taking a week-long poetry workshop with Katie Ford several years ago at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival. At the time, I was struck by her quiet intelligence and her generous spirit, and I felt like I got a poetry education in one week that I hadn’t been able to achieve by just reading on my own.
Listening to her today on my computer, I had the overwhelming feeling that what I am writing isn’t nearly as important or smart or interesting as other poets in the world, a “why bother?” kind of feeling. I know that this feeling will pass – that all poets offer something different to the landscape, that my writing is too important to me to just give up. But damn. Sometimes the pure talent of someone else can make you stop in your tracks and throw your pen in the air. If you haven’t read Katie Ford, go take a listen. And see what I mean.