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The Future Is Now ... And Then

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The Future Is Now ... And Then

The Future Is Now ... And Then

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MICHELE NORRIS, host:

Now some thoughts on poetry and the quest to be profound. Andrei Codrescu hasn't always been a commentator for this program. He once had another line of literary work.

ANDREI CODRESCU: I once had a job writing fortune cookies for an adult fortune-cookie factory in San Francisco for $5 a fortune. And I got to say things like, you owe me $100 or read this twice, you still won't understand it. I quit and stopped the poetry, which pays nothing, but keeps its dignity. I could now say things like, the happy man needs no prose. The last fortune cookie I got said, you will know the truth in time, which I always suspected and the truth is that time will make truth irrelevant because by the time you find it, you won't have any feelings about it - about truth, I mean.

Time is truth and there is no truth in time, as John Keats never said, but timekeeper is the best job you can have. This is my job. I'm a watch with feelings. The truth is also that the fortune cookies I didn't write had as much truth in them as the ones I did write. You just had to think about them more. When I first started writing, every poet wanted to be profound. Then every poet tried hard not to be profound, and that was a lot harder. Now, in the future, profound is everywhere, in every fortune cookie and commercial.

So there is considerably less pressure on poets � except to make money, of course, but to make money you must use prose. It's like they say about the president: running is poetry, governing is prose. Me, I just run. I'm so poetic, I date all my letters 2010 already, and sometimes even 2011 and 2012. I just don't email them. So, in time, you'll find a stash of my letters dated in the future that will be well passed by the time you find them. And they will say things like, I told you so, or if you say that again, it'll be a quote. Happy New Year.

NORRIS: Andrei Codrescu is editor of Exquisite Corpse, a literary journal. You can find it at corpse.org.

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