Thursday, December 9, 2010

Reflections – My first ten days of poetry

It feels longer. A lot longer.

I started this because it needed to get out. I have published a few travel and scholarly articles, but poetry is so much more personal, I wanted to do it on my terms, not some editor’s, and not for money. I wanted to let flow that power of language that is like lightning, that can’t be stoppered or controlled without breaking or maiming it.

So, I decided to write a poem a day for the rest of my life.

It has been amazing. I cheated the first few days, using old poems I had stored up. Now I just find a time, sit, put out my feelers, and let it come.

And it does.

Here are my thoughts on what I’ve written thus far:

Ode to the Mullet
There are not enough odes, these days. We are very negative and disparaging, while ancient peoples whipped off odes to anything that picked them up. Older poem I wrote.

The wife is into mullet websites, and I had watched some documentary or other about how the common ancient Greek warrior haircut was probably the mullet. Voila.

My Voice
I wrote this a while back during a very difficult time last year. I had been giving in and agreeing with something I hated, and finally I came to a point of resisting and speaking out or breaking down mentally. I spoke out, saved myself, and this poem was the result.

The Man in Black
Another old poem I threw out. I tried to use Cash’s rhythm in this – I think it worked. Although I always liked Cash, I didn’t realize his power until one Canadian summer a few years back when I stayed up till morning singing Johnny’s version of ‘Hurt’ over and over again for a friend who played guitar and worked through his own personal tragedy.

The Trainer
Spontaneous poem. I watch English TV on satellite, but there are tons of weight loss commercials between shows. Add to this that old poem about Michelangelo chipping an angel out of stone and a documentary about how he was the first to insist on working within whole stones instead of adding clay to make features, and there you go.

Kingdom of Father and Son
Spontaneous. They attacked, and no talking head could explain why, so I decided to give my own explanation. It fits the facts very well, I think. Very Chaplin/Great Dictator vibe.

First Kisses
Spontaneous. I have no idea from where. Something submerged in the subconsciousness that floated up and out, I expect.

Older poem. Amurri was supposedly the guy Noah left all his worldly goods to, which didn’t help at all when the Flood came. I consider this an allegory for modern consumer society and how we are rejoicing in a lifestyle that is doomed while ignoring the signs that point this out. A bit scary, I think.

Spontaneous. ‘The Humans are Dead’ plus ‘Citizens of Tomorrow’ equals this poem. I think there are some great songwriters out there, and they especially don’t feel constrained to write about traditional poetry subjects. Just riffing off that sci-fi vibe. We are closer to the future, while older poets felt closer to the past, so I think sci-fi themed poems are only natural in that respect, but English majors still have a lot of resistance to this.

Child Soldiers
Spontaneous. I met and worked with these kids. They were lovely, but doomed in a way. Canada did its fumbling best to help them, but that is like taking in a wounded animal – chances are someone will get bit. I hope they are doing alright.

Thank You Fathers
Spontaneous. Got traumatized against water by being thrown into lakes and traumatized against religion by being beaten to church. I am thankful now for having been made the way I am because of these awful experiences. Got a SCUBA license to overcome my first fear, will never let go of my second.

Ode to Central Heating
Spontaneous. Come hang out in my place in winter and you’ll see. The last line about the heating bill my wife added.

Overall, I am trying not to write too much about myself or be too maudlin. I think it is working, but definitely my serious poems seem a bit stronger. But I think comedy and satire do have a place in poetry as well.



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