Saturday, September 17, 2016

All Over for Poetry—Too Bad for Me

For the most part, I've stopped writing poetry. I don't even like to read it anymore. Much of the poetry I see nowadays is not the poetry I grew up with. Poetry now seems to me mostly prose cut into arbitrary line lengths, lacking in aesthetic, linguistic (charged and original use of language), and intellectual excitement. Or maybe it's just me. Or it's become so cryptic, it's not worth the time and effort necessary to work it out. There's one poet I can think of who falls into this latter category. I have nine books by the poet, but the poems are exhausting to read, I never know what I've read, and I can't quote one line from any of the poems. Although the poet is very celebrated, I think the poet just loses control of language and rambles. If the poems are confusing enough, one assumes they're doing something important. But they may not be. I don't think this poet could write an address in fourteen lines. Wallace Stevens, for example, can be complicated, but his control is astounding—one takes something away from each of his poems Also, poetry (as is the case with other art forms) has become so democratized—affirmative action seems to play a big role. You don't need to know anything other than how to speak and write the language. Very discouraging. The visual arts, as an aside, has become a video game rather than a skillful handing of a blank canvas or a solid chunk of material with no shape until the artist makes it alive. I recently watched a film of a group of singers celebrating Pete Seeger performed at Lincoln Center (weird selection of songs) and there was one rapper in the group. He rapped when it came to him, but when it came to actual singing, the other performs sang in a group and he was silent. He was not a singer. Rap is very accessible, in that it's chanting poorly written couplets with no discernible meter and ridiculous end rhymes that don't rhyme to loud music?and some call it poetry. Significant poetry takes a little work but is very rewarding. When it becomes so cryptic and filled with  personal allusions no one but the poet knows, it's useless. You hear a joke and you don't understand it. Someone explains it to you, but do you laugh? No. You say, "I understand it." If someone has to "explain" a poem to you, it serves no purpose, has no effect. The poem should be written so the reader can connect with it in some way, even if it's not what the poet meant to communicate. I heard the singer Stevie Nicks (whom I love) express this same sentiment on the "poems" she writes for her wonderful songs. She generally uses love as a metaphor for other things. She's a little undisciplined and doesn't have the linguistic skills of let's say Marianne Moore, but they're lyrics, not poems, but she still moves me when she sings. I wrote of whole satire on what I on this subject I called "Letters to an Elderly Poet" (i't meant to be satirical while saying something about poetry). But few have read it. Oh, well. I guess I'll survive. I've gotten about thirty-five poems published in lit. mags—seven in Stand in Leeds, England, (the only mag. that seems to think anything of my work), and they have led to nothing, and I'm not aggressive as many poets are. Oh, well, I doubt if anyone with miss me.