Famous poets traveling to new locations to test their ability
June 28, 2012 8:28 PM   Subscribe

I remember reading somewhere that some famous, ancient (?) Japanese (?) poets liked to travel to new places where they were not yet well-known, in order to test their abilities and attempt to re-establish themselves as talented poets. Does this ring any bells? Do you know of any sources that talk about such a thing? Any examples of such poets? Anything similar in a field other than poetry?
posted by palet to Media & Arts (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Could you be thinking of the painter Hokusai?
posted by cazoo at 8:56 PM on June 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Anything similar in a field other than poetry?
Various authors have written books under pseudonyms at least in part for this purpose. The one that comes to my mind is Stephen King, as Richard Bachmann.

The musician Jewel went in disguise to a karaoke bar and sang Jewel songs. Video here.
posted by Flunkie at 9:29 PM on June 28, 2012

It was a prank as much as a test, but Marcel Duchamp used the pseudonym R. Mutt to submit "Fountain" as an entry for the exhibition of the Society of Independent Artists in 1917.

Also, "[S]hy of his talent, Winston [Churchill] submitted three paintings to the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition under a pseudonym, David Winter, and was delighted when they were accepted."
posted by argonauta at 9:34 PM on June 28, 2012

Charlie Chaplin once lost a Charlie Chaplin look-a-like contest.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 5:11 AM on June 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Street skateboarders have a preferred stance. "Natural" skaters skate with their right foot forward, and "goofy" skaters put their left foot forward. Many eventually become ambidextrous (ambifootwhatever). So you may see a competent skater attempting at failing at simple tricks, just because they are attempting them in their "wrong" stance. It's a learning thing. It's also a humbling thing.
posted by kandinski at 6:04 AM on June 29, 2012

@kandinski, goofy skaters actually skate right foot forward.
posted by HopStopDon'tShop at 7:58 AM on June 29, 2012

Shit, HopStopDon'tShop.

I used to skate. I'm a natural, can't do goofy. I skate with my left foot forward. And yesterday, when writing my comment, I managed to switch the words "right" and "left".

Clearly, I am still the same person who took his driving test with a big "D" for "Derecha" and a big I (for "Izquierda") written in felt tip pen on my wrists. And I had someone else write them for me, just in case.
posted by kandinski at 3:37 AM on June 30, 2012

Also apparently it's called "regular" in the US, and we got it wrong in my small Spanish town. Because I was far from a natural. Rather, I was a shit skater.

Still, the answer to the question stands. Experienced skaters really often relearn to skate with their off stance, and look like novices doing it.
posted by kandinski at 3:42 AM on June 30, 2012

Basho did this, several times - although first, as I understand it, as a reaction against life difficulties. Throughout that first period of travel, he continued to write and note the changes and challenges in his mind and work that the travel caused.

Later, he embarked on a more planned journey which was largely intended as a catalyst for writing. Have a look at the section 'Oku no Hosomichi' within the wikipedia article here.

Also, while we're on the subject, there's plenty of coverage of this and other Japanese poetic traditions and history in the excellent 'Basho - The Complete Haiku' translated and with notes and context by Jane Reichhold. There are individual notes for each individual haiku, as well as really lovely, readable essays. Here's a more considered review.
posted by paperpete at 12:29 PM on July 1, 2012

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