Poetry Break

Happy New Year! One year ago today, January 1, 2015, I started this Blog with the idea that it would serve as some kind of archive for my recently rekindled interest in writing poems. The first poem I wrote was called:

We can do better

It’s a new day.
Tomorrow is a mother
new day and next day
soon will be over
Seems like
is the time

I’m not saying you’re wrong
I’m just saying I disagree.

Live at Budokon

Pop Up on the back porch alone
Ice sickles hanging
From my balls

Excited like
Holding in my pee

Cheap Trick

Often people cry when I sing

With people that we love

We can do better
We can love more freely
We can Dance head first

We can make friends out of strangers
Heaters and fans

We take the Cure
With Bread

Often it’s best not to
meet the people
You think are cool

Every voice belongs to me
Not not caring
Not dying is my inspiration

Loneliness is such a sad affair
So try not to

Blue ray

Play key to continue

We can do better
Or not
So we do

I had the ambitious idea of creating a new poem every day for a year.  Within, two months, I pretty much failed at that goal. But the byproduct of my attempt has exposed me to a different way of writing that I’d never really understood before. I’ll try to explain.

It had been a long time since I’d felt like writing poems. The first self motivated form of creative writing I ever did was a poem. I was in the 9th grade. It was a poem about the end or the world via nuclear war. The second thing I ever wrote was a punk rock song about patricide entitled: Oh Daddy.  

I studied English in collage with an emphasis in creative writing and I wrote some poetry but mostly I wrote short fiction.  As you might gather, writing was alway kind of an intensive process for me. I imagined poetry to be the most intense form for writing. But I think I was still a little too insecure to dedicate too much of my energy to writing poetry then. I needed the larger amount of validation that comes with writing good sentences.

When I wrote poetry in college, it was my belief that every line and syllable needed to be labored over. I was constantly revising my poems, forever searching for that precise combination of characters to convey what ever deeply important and revelatory idea I had at the time. I simply thought that this was what writing poetry was supposed to be. My thought was that since poetry was the most minimal form of word based art, one must mine every letter and punctuation for it’s full symbolic potential.  As opposed to what one does in prose, where the sentence is more the focus, in poetry it was about the letter, the mark, and where it appears on the page. 

I thought of it as the difference between abstract painting and realism. In my mind, like the abstract painter, the poet caries a heavier burden because the larger population will forever be judging her against the slightly more easily assessed talent of say a novelist or realist painter. A child can splatter some paint on a canvass or write a sentence about a red wheelbarrow. My thought was that what makes these artistic forms as valid as great bricks of human culture like the Sistine Chapel or War and Peace had to do with the amount mental energy exerted in the process of making them. This was how I could justify in my own mind a Rothko to be as important as a Rembrandt,  or a  William Carlos Williams poem as important as one of Shakespeare’s plays. For some reason the later never really came close to speaking to me as powerfully and deeply as the the former. A Michelangelo statue could never blow my mind like a DeKooning painting.  Homer could never move me like a T.S. Eliot poem.

I guess you could say I had little interest in studying the source. Perhaps I was just too dumb or lazy or too self centered to allow myself to appreciate art that I could never possibly perceive myself capable of creating. And though this was the kind of art that spoke to me, I was haunted by demons that told me that my preferences for modernism and minimalism were just an excuse for my own insecurity and laziness. So, I had to compensate for this by self inflicting the proper amount of discernment and self doubt before I could call any piece “finished.” 

I embraced the role of the tortured artist and for the most part it served me well throughout my later teens and early twenties. I had created a fair amount of stuff the I might have called art.  But I see now that there was very little out side of some noises I produced on an electric guitar that I felt truly proud of.

In 2014 Nan and I had come up with the idea of including a short poetry break, accompanied by an improvised dance, as part of our live Schwervon! shows. The motivation for the idea was two fold.

(to be continued)