When poets have feelings, it’s pretty much a dog-bites-man story. But sometimes we get so caught up in the petty, gossipy details of the poetry sphere that we ignore the courage, the frailty, and the humanity on constant display here. We neglect to sympathize. This week, we aimed to correct that by feeling for those who have risked so much to address our shared condition.

We felt for Joyce Johnson. She dared to be close to Jack Kerouac, not a noted master of human intimacy, at the height of his career and his alcohol abuse. She speaks out to HuffPo on that literary epoch she’s already documented quite thoughtfully in her work.

We felt for Mary Karr. Her ex committed suicide. She’s expected to talk about him a lot, and is always utterly classy about it.

We felt for Peter Orner. Although he is apparently not a poet and this is not a gift, it choked us up but good.

We felt for Andrew Frisardi. He translated Dante’s early work and is now getting some static about it.

We felt for Paul Legault. He worked very hard on an unorthodox translation of Emily Dickinson, a public figure at the height of her power with some powerful allies in the trenches. He hopes she does not take offense.

We felt for Patricia Lockwood. Poetry is hard. Comedy is harder. Even Twitter comedy ain’t necessarily a weekend in the Dells.

We felt for the lit-bros. Hemingway is dead. Mailer? Dead. Bukowski? Quite dead, and probably still sweating out the worst hangover of all time. The poetry patriarchy crumbles—female writers finally got an issue of a serious literary magazine to themselves, by accident, without even asking. Guess you fellas will have to be content with broetry.

We felt for the decadent Victorian poets. It was a tough time for rebels of all sorts. You’d think decadence would be its own reward, but a lot of it ranged from “ghoulish” to downright “quotidian.”

We felt for poetry itself. But we suppose poetry’s problems are over now.

Originally Published: October 12th, 2012