Friday, June 26
somewhere i have never travelled
Somehow, I forgot to post this awhile back.....I was asked to go as a show of support to a poetry reading a few months back, and I realized that my knee-jerk reaction was something like "Errrr.....I'll be uncomfortable and/or bored by being so close to someone theatrically reading about their own narcissistic difficulties."
Poetry. It seems like an outdated phrase that stirs up images of tufted neck ruffles and the backs of hands on the forehead. Its as if the poet, like the artist, takes that title because it safely signifies a heartbreaking, angry sensitivity to the world that a title like "prescription drug salesman" or "auto mechanPic" can't. In our mediated social connectivity, where the micro of emotional states are thrown out to an anonymous public as "status updates" or relationships are begun through a pre-screening process involving a series of generic yet quirky descriptions, something like poetry seems an anachronism. I should say before I go too far that I love poetry. It was one of my first loves. It was something I could experience in the privacy of my mind when I read it and would share sparingly with others because of how close to my bones it reached. Now, when written words are read and updated every 30 seconds in hypertext, where intonation and meditation are inferior to skimming to the point, I would guess that something like poetry appears archaic and weird.
Poetry may not follow the strict rules of its given language, but unlike text messages and tweets, poets delicately, deliberately and sometimes emotively, put their words in an order to draw out connotations for the reader or listener. Its a handling of the subtleties of language that frees it to say more than it denotes. (I would actually read and be touched by the poetry posted by the Transit Authority in NYC on the trains. And I would feel embarrassed. And never tell anyone.) I guess there is a perceived niävete in being that unguarded about how you feel at any given moment. It's not very adult if you cry during a budget meeting or tell your boss that you really appreciate how much he's taught you about time management or that you love the smile you get from the clerk at the grocery store, because its nice that someone is happy to see you buy grapefruits you never really eat. I suppose there was a time when writing seemed like a mediation of these relationships. But our wired emotional connectivity now has a crude directness that is not the same. I don't really see the haiku of tweets. And pop songs somehow don't hit the same nerve.
I went to the reading. I listened to the poets relate not only in their own words, but their own structure for those words, tales of missing limbs, boots talking to guns and road trips. Or what I should say is what its like to want something you can't have, to be separated and say goodbye to someone you were close to, and, when broken-hearted, list the ways and places that help you forget and heal you. And I was a tiny bit self-conscious, but I cried.