Talent could find its way, in days of old,
To display for folks, a few tickets sold,
And audience would enjoy deliverance
Of songs and humor, even a magic trance.
If artists were good, word would spread,
And more folk to talent show’d be led.
Up success ladder, bigger and better,
Each audience fresh, as was booking letter.
Entertainment, rare, enjoyable treat,
When travel mode was horse or human feet.
Material was used again and again,
For each new audience, a new refrain.
Now to an artist’s prayer comes television,
Medium to reach millions with precision,
Allow the artist to perform in one place,
So his work, many people could embrace.
But along the way, new media of hope,
Lost luster, our homeboy was out of scope,
With promoters he tried coup to score
But they just laughed him off the stage floor,
For their penny ante show, you see,
Could pick and choose from brightest that be,
As it would require just minimal cast
To reach audiences of numbers vast,
With tastes grown picky and jaded,
Demand for lesser talent faded,
Not smallest allowance would make,
Nor cut slack for the tiniest mistake,
And material must be updated every day,
Or finicky audience would refuse to stay,
Change channels, find something new,
Or failing that, something else to do.
Can be entertained by the very best,
So who in an unknown would time invest?
Our homespun hero, and thousands like him,
Saw career chances grow utterly dim,
Too great, wall of audience preference,
Too great, the unrequited deference,
While fifty superstars play king of hill,
Stars by the thousands languish, no playbill.
With literature computer bound,
The same phenomena has been found,
So easy to write and distribute work,
After each speedup another would lurk,
So public, drowning in literature flood,
Reads only best, not even a semi-dud,
Won’t stoop for something grade B or C,
Cull every book save A plus, if not free.
So authors compete right off the bat,
With other new talent, tit for tat,
And at local’s home or on the road,
With those selling by the truckload.
Would previous actors of great repute,
With today’s glut trying to follow suite,
Be superstars, or passed, chosen last,
For defining parts in career’s past?
Same may apply to authors of fame,
Who persevered in the writing game,
By writing longhand ‘til their fingers bled,
Or myriad re-types ‘til copy to bed.
If the greats had to compete today,
Could they still awe us and have their say?
Or would a thousand bright young upstarts
Pound emotional reams from their hearts,
And obliterate Charles Dickens chance?
Would Hawthorne be given second glance?
Or Bronte, Burns, Twain, Shelley or Poe,
Who among them would we even know?
‘Tis a brutal fact that artists now face,
And must do so with fortitude and grace:
Tools that make it easy to ply our trade,
Raise new barriers to having it made.