I am sick of my own anger. Sick of its taste. Sick of its smell. Sick of its metalic high-pitched whine like tinitus. Sick of turning it over in my fingers like a dirty pill of bread. Sick of seeing it first thing every morning when I wake up, standing between me & the light streaming through the window. I have decided to let it go. I have reached the age at which enmity is not merely too much trouble, but a terrible burden to lug toward the grave. And so — though I have not been diagnosed with a terminal illness, nor have I joined a twelve-step program — I want to apologize to all of you, those I remember & those I have forgotten.
Most of my resentments & angers have been literary. That would be funny if it were not so sad. So, I hope I will not bring down too much embarrassment on my enemies — many of whom may not even know of their honored position! — by naming them. So: To Linh Dinh: I have reread the poems. I was wrong. I was showing off, talking out of my ass. Sorry. To Dana Gioia: I have slandered your name around the internet for years. I’ll never agree with your poetics, but my animus was personal — I resented your relationship with my teacher Donald Justice. To Mark Jarman: We will continue to disagree about poetry & religion & the relationship between the two, but my anger was personal, not literary. I apologize. To Kent Johnson: You raise the art of being annoying to its highest aesthetic perfection, but always, I think, in the service of art. I should have recognized this before now. I withdraw my objections. To Alison Croggon: It was just petty status-seeking & I’m sorry. I behaved childishly. These are the ones I remember; there are certainly others, to whom I issue a blanket apology. (Email me — I’ll put you on the list!) Anyway, I’m through carrying this stuff around with me. In the words of the immortal Van Morrison, I’m going to “throw it down, on the burning ground.” Finally, I want to be clear that I seek nothing in return for my apology, neither recognition nor forgiveness, neither big wet kiss nor little peck on the cheek.
Coda: Some kinds of anger are legitimate. I’ve not gone soft in the head, I hope. I think political anger is often warranted, for instnace, but my political angers have been largely impersonal. Anger at friends is another matter & will certainly require another sort of apology. I continue to believe in the possibility of aesthetic judgment; but I hope, going forward, to keep myself from allowing literary taste to bleed over into personal animus.