When the movie Groundhog Day was released in 1993, it received mixed reviews. Since then, however, the film has been embraced by many as a dark-horse (woodchuck?) comedy with serious undertones.
It’s even been embraced by Buddhists, who see TV weatherman Phil Connors’s repeating day as a metaphor for reincarnation and striving to try, try, try again until you reach enlightenment.
But I come not to praise born again (and again, and again) weathermen, I come to show how Phil’s inability to escape February 2nd echoes the life of a poet.
How shall I compare thee to a winter’s day, then, one that starts with Sonny & Cher on a clock radio singing, “I’ve Got You, Babe” at 6 a.m.? Like so:
- a poet writes every day
- a poet wakes to see the same poems every day, and the more he tries to change them, the more stubborn they become against transformation
- a poet calls on pick-a-Muse-any-Muse and gets Sonny & Cher (the 10th and 11th Muses) instead
- a poet knows the drill because he’s been there before (note the hard hat)
- a poet sends “finished” poems into the world
- the world sends “unfinished” poems back to the poet
- a poet recognizes each day as yet another “No Reply At All Day” from markets
- a poet reads good poetry
- a poet says of good poetry, “Looks easy. I can do that!”
- a poet writes good “finished” poetry, sends it into the world, waits through months of “No Reply At All Days,” and receives “unfinished” poetry back from the world
- without comment
- a poet writes a line he considers brilliant only to stumble upon the same idea in a poem he’s never read before
- until he reads it
- and thinks, “Great minds think alike, you lousy thief!”
- a poet builds “I Got You, Babe” habits:
- like black coffee
- like riffs upon riffs of background Bach
- like byzantine marketing systems
- a poet, realizing reader-fee markets won’t go away unless you boycott them, only sends work to non-fee markets (if he can still find them)
- a poet, realizing poetry markets will dry up without resources, ponies up reading fees until he realizes he is a poetry market, too, drying up slowly
- a poet rationalizes
- every day
- and again
- and again
- else he’s no poet
- finally, and most importantly, a poet believes, with persistence, that his day will come
- it’s called February 3rd
- and when it comes, he will seize the day
- as his own.