poets’ habits

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What Groundhog Day Means to Poets

phil connors

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
  • again
  • 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.