"So part of me wants to let them see my weird side. And part of me wants them to see the serious craft it takes to dig this stuff out and turn it into art. And there's some need for me to connect with them. This whole thing is probably about connecting. Standing up in front of people is saying 'Hey, folks, look at me, ain't I great? Please induct me into your imaginary club of people you like. I want to be in that.' And there's the need to find things out about them. To make kinships. 'I feel this way about ... Volvos and farts.' 'Yeah! Me too!' 'You too? OKAY?'"
As usual, George Carlin says it best. And if this little rant, ostensibly about stand-up comedy, doesn't also apply to poetry, then I don't know what poetry is.
About Last Words, I'll say that that it's a bit disturbing to find out as much about Carlin as he admits in the book (though not really all that surprising). But over the course of Carlin's telling of his own life story, there was demonstrated time and again the same evolution in his comedy that is typical of the evolution of a writer - we start out as mimics, grow a little into learning an audience and giving them what they want, get lost for a while in a recursive loop of imitiating our early successes, then emerge into a discovery of voice that dominates the rest of our careers.
Or is that just me?
PS: Read the book!