Interesting question, but what interested me most was this part of Orr's response: "Reading their (Kunitz's and Strand's) poems was also a way for them to teach me indirectly through their writing. And it's very important to know your teacher's work. I sometimes have students working with me, and they've studied with me two or three years, and I realize they've never read anything I've written. That seems crazy, because why would you listen to somebody's opinion of your work if you don't know what they've written?"
It's that last part that has stayed with me. I keep thinking of a college student who came to a reading I gave several years ago. After the reading she came up to me and offered some lovely compliments. She moved closer to me and indicated that she wanted to touch me for "inspiration." She seemed to think that she could magically acquire what I knew by literally rubbing shoulders with me. I suggested that the best poetry teacher and the best source of inspiration is a poetry book. But she went home empty-handed. Now I understand that college kids often don't have the money for poetry books, but I sure hope they don't really believe that proximity to a poet is how one learns how to write poetry.
I've also been asked several times by other poets to write a review of their latest book. I write several reviews each year—it's kind of a mission of mine, a way of supporting poets, and it allows me to hope for the same kind of support—but these requests sometimes come from poets who I'm sure haven't bought or read any of my books. They might, at best, have read a few of my poems in journals. I'm not inclined to say Yes to the request.
Likewise with blurbs. I generally feel honored to be asked to write a blurb for a forthcoming book—but only when it comes from someone who I know has supported my work. Unfortunately, that's not always the case. I've been asked to write blurbs for people who clearly have virtually no knowledge of my work beyond having read a poem or two online. And I have to wonder, as Orr wondered, why they'd want words of praise from someone whose work they don't know very well? And why they would expect my support when they haven't given me theirs?
One more thing that puzzles me: Why do poets with forthcoming books or chapbooks ask me to pre-order and pay for their collections when they've never bought one of my books already in print? I receive these requests fairly often as there are several presses which require their poets to solicit advance sales. The number of advance sales then determines the print run. Although I do not like this business model at all, if the request comes from a poet who I know has supported my work, then I pre-order. But sometimes the request comes from a poet who I'm quite sure has not availed himself of my work. I'm not sure why some people would ask or expect me to pay for the publication cost of their work when they haven't offered me their support.
Most poets I know are generous, and I hope that I am too, but, at the risk of sounding cranky, I want to suggest that people asking for services or favors or time need to remember to be generous too. They need to remember The Golden Rule of Poetry.