Louis Esterhuizen. Die digter op die markplein


Einde verlede maand het Aaron Belz, redakteur van Curator Magazine  en ‘n digter met drie digbundels op sy naam, die volgende advertensie op Craiglist geplaas: “Poet available to begin work immediately. Capable in rhyme and meter, fluent in traditional and contemporary forms. Quotidian observations available at standard rate of $15/hour; occasional verse at slightly higher rate of $17/hour. Incomprehensible garbage $25/hour. Angst extra.” Uiteraard ‘n advertensie wat tong-in-die-kies die draak steek met die meer gewroegtes des lettere, maar tog ook met ‘n sweempie erns daarby, aangesien Belz in die sosiale media erken het dat dit in ‘n mate tóg ook om den brode gaan …

Volgens The Atlantic se berig oor dié ietwat ongewone stap is Belz heeltemal in ooreenstemming met Camille Paglia se artikel (“How Capitalism Can Save Art”) wat verlede jaar in The Wall Street Journal verskyn het. Hiervolgens beweer Paglia “ … (T)hat contemporary artists have long had a predisposition to eschew market tools, disregarding the entrepreneurial side of artistic craft in favor of retreating into ‘an airless echo chamber’ – in which artists listen and respond only to other artists. They shouldn’t, she wrote, and suggested that a renewed emphasis on the trades – where artists ‘see themselves as entrepreneurs’ could help them to break free from the ‘ideology and cant’ that have continued to decrease art’s impact on the world.”


Aaron Belz

Die res van The Atlantic se berig gee nogal ‘n interessante kykie na hoe die ivoortoringmentaliteit van digters die afgelope dekades posgevat en weer verander het: van Paul Goodman se uitsprake in 1951 (“Paul Goodman argued that American capitalism had alienated poets from their audience and proposed that they respond by writing for a small circle of peers to create an alternative society in which poetry would flourish”, tot Dana Gioia se pogings in 1991 om die radio as poësie-medium in te span (“One of Gioia’s proposals was that poets should make more use of radio: ‘Mixing poetry with music on classical and jazz stations,’ he wrote at the time, ‘or creating innovative talk-radio formats could re-establish a direct relationship between poetry and the general audience’.”

Nou ja, toe. Indien ander vakkundiges by die uur vergoed word vir dienste gelewer, is dit seker nie onvanpas dat ‘n digter op dieselfde besoldiging aanspraak maak nie, of hoe? Soos Belz dit aan The Atlantic se beriggewer gestel het: “My son has a bicycle shop. It’s hands-on work that requires skill. Bicycles are not as vital as food or shelter, but people like to ride them and are happy to pay to have them repaired. What I’m doing on Craigslist is not so different. I have a particular skill and I try to use it to write poems that work.”

Hierin gee die beriggewer hom gelyk: “Rightly or wrongly, poetry’s doomsayers continue to argue that contemporary American poetry is in bad shape. But an increasing number of younger poets (like Belz), who are less inclined to repeat the errors of the past, prove that there are ways poetry can re-emerge from its catastrophic turn away from society. Now is the time for them to make a definitive break with the cliques of poetry’s subculture; embrace the idea that the free market that can help, rather than only hurt, their endeavors; and create poetry that matters.”

Maar dat hierdie optrede ook tot komiese insidente aanleiding gee, is na alle waarskynlikheid ‘n gegewe. So vind ek op ‘n ander webtuiste, The Guilty Conscience, ene Lane Severson se beskrywing van sy interaksie met Aaron Belz. Hy het naamlik op die advertensie reageer en ‘n gedig versoek waarin hy (Severson) beledig word.

Sy aanvanklike e-pos lees soos volg: “Dear Poet, I would love a poem composed at my expense in both senses. If you could spend two hours (30 Dollars worth) scribbling out rhythmic insults about me that would be much appreciated. I would be happy to chase quick pay or pay pal the money to you.”

Hierop het Belz reageer met ‘n versoek vir biografiese inligting en Severson het die volgende aan hom deurgestuur. “I am a 29 year old father of five. I’m celebrating my 8th wedding anniversary on August 6. I was homeschooled. I’m a pastors kid. I grew up charismatic and I’m Anglican now. I went to college at 14. I am a full time sales person for a consulting firm and I write for Out Of Our Time, the Christianity today magazine.”

Vir jou leesvermaak volg Aaron Belz se ‘beledigende’ gedig hieronder.




The guy’s name alone ought to convince you

He’s not exactly committed to his gender,

But the truth is he’s just uncommitted.

Though born an American, the homeliest son

Of a charmingly obscure charismatic pastor,

Lack of commitment led him eventually to

Casually slide over to a higher ecclesial order

That’s not even, as they say, from here.

Now a mere pawn in the house of bishops

He can manage neither a coherent theology

Nor back-to-back-to-back pushups,

Having spent the past eight years

Generating five poorly behaved children

With one wife who, worn out, loathes him

And can’t stop staring at his poorly combed hair.

She, while publicly calling him “Honey,”

Questions his decisions related to money

That have gotten this gigantic family somewhere

In the upper parts of Illinois but not elsewhere,

Such as into a stately Lakeshore townhouse

Or into clothing and accessories de rigueur

Neatly organized into armoires and dressers

By a genial, self-effacing maid or butler.

She would like to relax and observe the regatta

From a deck chair, but far from such bright sails

Her squirrely Lane has chosen—been compelled,

Let’s be honest—to take a job in sales.

So while the wind in their city, against which

Five whelps all but unbuffeted troop

Unfriendly sidewalks asking for change,

swells, Penniless Lane is off “consulting”

And/or writing blog posts (“publishing”).

The homeschooled know that these feats

Are no mean ones; to do something, anything,

Sets the doer apart from everyone else

In some sense, at least. So a gold star for Lane

And larger ones for his longsuffering bride

And five young ones wandering in the rain.



(c) Aaron Belz



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Een Kommentaar op “Louis Esterhuizen. Die digter op die markplein”

  1. Neels Jackson :

    In 1985, toe ek ‘n dienspligtige was, het ek vir een van die ouens wat saam met my basies gedoen het, ‘n kwatryn geskryf wat hy in ‘n brief vir sy meisie kon stuur. Ek dink hy het my R1 daarvoor betaal. En as ek reg onthou het ek op ‘n manier push-ups as metafoor gebruik om sy liefde vir haar te verklaar. Nee, ek kan nie onthou hoe ek die kloutjie by die oor gebring het nie 🙂