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Anxious gatekeeping

Analogous to nervous cluelessness is something we might call “anxious gatekeeping.”   This is desire to police the borders of poetry, or of...

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Old Work

I rarely read my old work. Even my very recent old work. Once it is published, I never want to see it again. One of the last thing I have to do in an article I am now writing is to find page references from a few of my own publications, and I have postponed that very simple task, simply because I don't like to look at my own published work. See my name in print? Yes, that's wonderful, but I never want to rest on past achievements or look my old mistakes in the face.

When I do read my old work, I am surprised that it still holds up fine. Even things I wrote 20 years ago seem great to me. I guess I am always afraid of finding something that is gong to embarrass me, even though that rarely happens. In some cases, I wonder how I could have been so intelligent when I was so ignorant. In other words, I know that I didn't know basic things back in the day, but the arguments are still valid and ingenious ones. I stand by them.

The Ku ScholarWorks has been useful, in that it has inspired me to look at some of my old work. I am particularly interested in authorial voice and style. When I look at what I wrote, I can have forgotten what I wrote, but generally I still recognize the self behind the words. It is still me, even if it is making arguments that I wouldn't make today. As I also discovered, I was not a bad writer, even though I think I have improved now. Sure, I can pick on myself on small details, but I had prose even then (20, 22 years ago.)

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