I love this article in Poets & Writers by Rachel Zucker
I came upon it while searching the web on the topic of is poetry an elitist activity? Nancy Pelosi suggested it is a good thing for people to not work. At least that is the sound bite I have heard repeatedly lately on the news concerning healthcare and food stamps. The jobless (those not tied to having to work to gain these benefits ) can then pursue things like poetry and art or other interests. Hmm, I thought. I've been writing and creating art for my whole life and believe me I have not lived an elitist life as an adult. I also think work is a good thing and creating art and writing is a lot of work. Imo most art worth (has an impact or affect) viewing, hearing, or reading is created by some type of struggle or passion, appreciation or question and the process is not for people who like "easy." Ms Pelosi makes the arts seem like frivolous fluff only the rich can do. That may not have been been what she meant but it sure sounded like it.
Who Makes Art, Why and Financially How?
It is true many writers and artists have had charmed lives (they did not work or work in the traditional sense, 40 hours a week) and it is also true many have not. I don't thing Vincent Van Gogh, Rembrandt or Sylvia Plath had charmed lives fianancially or emotionally. Since money is the topic I am sure there are many artists who struggled with money while creating art whose lives I know nothing about.
Some artists and writers have had patrons as in the Renaissance period. Lorenzo Medici was a patron of the arts in the 15th century. The patron could be the government or the church or anyone with disposable cash.
Charles Erlandson writes about art patrons through the ages in The Lost Art of Patronage. Erlandson does expouse a "religious" connection to making art in his essay which I don't think applies to all artistic creations. However if you dig deep enough into a poem or painting or piece of music there is a world view and a view of creation if not direct, it is implied. You can read his essay to further examine the idea of who funds the arts and why and is art a frivilous past time with no meaning other than self indulgence. which lead me to the Zucker confessional article (read more on this at the end of the post).
Charles Erlandson writes:
"The concept of the patron which is still with us originated in the times of Rome and designated a Roman citizen who was a protector (the patronus) of a foreigner who had settled in Roman territory (the cliens). The relationship between the patron and his client (clientala) was an especially close one and involved many of the terms found in feudal contracts between lords and vassals. This Roman concept of the patron was extended into the medieval and Renaissance times, during which artists were afforded protection and sponsorship by various nobles and merchant princes.
In contemporary society the word 'patron' has lost some of its original connotation. Today we usually reserve the term for one who is specifically a "patron of the arts". Certainly, the closeness of the original relationship between a patron and his client is no longer implied in the term.
To better understand how a patron might or should function in our contemporary world, I would like to sketch a brief history of patronage through the ages and then examine how we might be able to interpret the role to the patron in the past to our present. But before I turn to my sketch pad, allow me to offer a brief apology for the necessity of the patron."
More About How Artists Supported Their Art in the Renaissance
But artists were still a service business. Unlike today, artists did not create whatever they liked then put it up for sale. Art served specific functions, which were mainly religious at the beginning of the Renaissance. Artists were paid to produce exactly what the patron wanted."
Many contemporary artist have been employed as teachers, professors, doctors, commercial artists, store clerks and laborers at times in their careers or in these occupations as full time money makers. Then there are women artists who create while being mothers using the sparse time when kids are asleep or at school to further their craft. Artists also can apply for financial support from federal,state and local government grants like the National Endowment for the Arts in the U.S. This is a form of patronage in some ways similar to that in the Renaissance times imo.
The poet William Carlos Williams was a doctor and writer.
The abstract expressionist painter Ronald Rauschenberg was a graphic designer.
Making art costs money and or making art requires the time to create. In my opinion art is never frivolous as an act and an object.
The article about confessional poetry by Rachel Zucker looks at writing poems from the "I" perspective. Is that self indulgent is one of the questions that comes up. I guess for me work, relevance, government, patronage, money, motivation, and process are the words for the day as related to the making of art.
The Zucker article includes a quiz to find out if you a confessional poet.
A Brief Guide to Confessional Poetry
|"Confessional poetry is the poetry of the personal or "I." This
style of writing emerged in the late 1950s and early 1960s and is
associated with poets such as Robert Lowell, Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton,
and W.D. Snodgrass. Lowell's book Life Studies was a highly
personal account of his life and familial ties, and had a significant
impact on American poetry. Plath and Sexton were both students of Lowell
and noted that his work influenced their own writing.|
The confessional poetry of the mid-twentieth century dealt with subject matter that previously had not been openly discussed in American poetry. Private experiences with and feelings about death, trauma, depression and relationships were addressed in this type of poetry, often in an autobiographical manner. Sexton in particular was interested in the psychological aspect of poetry, having started writing at the suggestion of her therapist."