Sunday, April 5, 2015

Eels & Angelfish: An Inquiry into the Oddness of 'Art'

I don't think what I write are poems, I don't know what they are but they don't feel like 'poems' to me, at least by comparison with almost every other poem I read. And I do read other people's poems every day and they seem like a completely other species. Partly it's content, partly it's the nature of my addiction to meter & rhyme/assonance.

The content part has to do with how little I'm interested in the details of my own life as a source for what to write about. Almost every poem I read by anybody else dives & drives with tremendous specificity and care into what I guess amounts to, in most people's measure of the notion, "real life." They write in great detail about either what they go through daily (illness, sex, weather, work, marriage, etc) or what somebody else goes through daily, often quite movingly, but/and I just can't summon up any capacity for immersion in that. But I also can't say what it is I do. I can't characterize abstractly. It would like be trying to put whatever breath of the moment is coming out of me into a dictionary. The 'experience' and any sort of 'explanation' of it are completely incompatible. So I don't know what it is I do. I truly don't.(Donna would say: why should you? But she also knows I'll keep asking stuff like this, and not quite completely rhetorically.)

The sound part is another strong strange part of the mix to me. I don't get poems that don't overtly evince rhythm and (some sort of) rhyme or assonance. I don't disapprove of them, I just don't get/hear/feel them. I'm coming to think that the central pulse in me has far less to do with 'meaning' (of, say, words) than it has to do with lilting nursery rhyme song. In fact, if I'm on my way to Alzheimer's, as who knows, I may be, I think I won't mind the dissolution of my cognitive abilities very much at all - as long as I get to rock back & forth in rhythm to the sweet soft beats I feel in my body & head.

I started drawing again (April 1 2009) - as an adjunct to whatever it is I write - because of something related to the above. It wasn't that I 'wanted' to draw exactly - but that I needed to add some other dimension or medium to the music & verbal 'meaning' of the writing. God, the stuff I wrote before I started drawing is unbelievably thickly verbally woven & long. It's like I was trying to strangle out of it something that did justice! (Justice to pretty much anything.) The drawings have helped ease this frustration. For one thing, what I write has gotten way shorter. Single quatrains, a lot of it. Maybe I wanted to make my own little movies, or something. Whatever the amalgam has turned out to be, I don't have a category for it.

I'm moved to say anything at all about this partly as an apology to my cherished poetry website, Wild Poetry Forum, which magnanimously permits me to post my hybrid babies, despite their difference from pretty much everything else posted there. I often find I have nothing to say about many of the poems I read therein. And I feel a little bad about this. I mean, I respond when I can. But it's like I'm a salt water eel trying to fathom (and cohabit the environs of) marvelous flitting fresh water angelfish. I gulp for my salt and can find none. But please know, my fellow wild poetry chums, that my silence does not indicate anything negative. It's just a 'poetic'/esthetic biological incapacity.

I don't know how they ever let me graduate from Middlebury.


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