Humans are social beings. They share. They cooperate. They work together. This communal nature has existed since the beginning of our species. The Garden of Eden story tells us that in the beginning God said man should not live alone. Small prehistoric hunters took down large mammoths, saber tooth tigers and other fierce game by hunting in groups. Generals and kings rely on armies. The first ruler of China was so dependent on his that he had untold man-hours spend on creating terra cotta soldiers to accompany him in death. Not only was Roman not built in a day, it was not built by one individual. Julius Caesar didn’t cross the Rubicon alone, so why do we think poets should work alone.
In America, at least, poets are thought of as quiet, reclusive people who would rather spend time with words than with people. They are viewed as lost in their own thoughts and disconnected from reality. This view is what I call the Thoreau/Dickinson syndrome. Because Thoreau enchanted us with poetry that grew from the peace of Walden Pond and Dickinson amazed us with her insights on life and death from a room overlooking a cemetery, Americans think writing poetry requires solitude, and today’s poets often seek such solitude in which to write.~ read more ~