Dan Hoy, on the Montevidayo blog, offers an intriguing if somewhat fuzzy argument about the difference between “regular poets” and “image artists.” Image artists, for Hoy, are those poets who saturate their whole productive output with a singular vision, and attempt to, to some degree, manufacture the subjective reception of their work (though the readership certainly plays a part in this:

Marketing typically begins with a need: who are you and what do you need? This question determines everything. But the origin of an image artist is different. It begins with a vision (of life), which corresponds roughly to a marketing objective. It begins with a vision because the target audience is a priori everyone and no one. The image artist is always speaking to something universal in all of us, and either we listen or we don’t. Regardless, the task of the image artist is to contaminate the world with her vision, or, in marketing speak, to construct a strategic framework and tactical deployment plan that will achieve the objective.

This distinction only hold if one accepts the validity of a supply and demand model in the first place. Not to mention one needs to accept the category of the “regular” poet. If, on the other hand, one rejects the idea of a “need” that preexists the product and the production of that need, and the idea of an artistic “regular” the analogy to types of poets might need to be revised. Anyway, here’s some more clarification:

For example, what differentiates an image artist poet from, say, a regular poet, is that, to the image artist, a book of poems and the promotion of that book have a lateral relationship: a poem from a book, the physical design of a book, marketing collateral like videos and posters, a public event, and subsequent interviews, collaborations, interventions, investments, denials, etc.—these are all related forms of a consistent, evolving vision. To the regular poet it’s simply a matter of writing a poem and publishing it in one venue or another, preferably one with a sizeable, welcoming audience and competent promotional staff. To the poet as image artist, every decision is an act of fidelity to an overarching strategy and a singular objective.

Originally Published: January 21st, 2011