Saturday, June 30, 2012

Ekphrastic Poetry

June 29, 2012
Wait a minute-- what poetry isn’t ekphrastic?  I couldn’t write another poem without the other poems I’ve read.  Without the arts there would be no arts.  I consider all poetry ekphrastic in some sense.  So let’s day it’s about “ Gurenica ”.  Fine, ekphrasis.  Or about Michaelangelo’s “ David ” or a Turner sky , Grieg’s Piano Concerto , something from Elvis’s Sun sessions , Burl Ives “Blue Tailed Fly”  or “I Want You to Want Me” .  All ekphrasticisms.
        Ekphrasticism has morphed into ekphrasticitis, has taken over more workshops than   loosestrife in Minnesota  (watch out sestina) and I’m sick of it.  I think people like the word.  It’s hard to spell, difficult to mouthe and impresses others a lot.  Poets around the world are having ekphrastigasms in groups and in public.  There’s even the thought that our poems derive shiny particles of greatness from their ekphrastic gods.
        I bow before art, worship the ones whose work went before, the ones I cannot measure up to.  I write because of them, sometimes in response to specific works.  This is not unique.  If ekphrasis causes you to  ponder, deepens the  pool you dredge your poems from, then good-- great.  Incorporate this into your practice of writing and living.
Otherwise I propose to ban the word for five years, or maybe twenty.  Re-name the seminars with something like “The Importance of Stuff that Came Before” or “Plagiarizing Passion”, or “Stealing Wallace Stevens’s Jar”. Honor the art.  Don’t cheapen it with haute demotics.  And when you go to poetry camp refuse to write ekphrastic poems.  Instead, watch films of Sam Snead swinging a golf  club or Joe Dimaggio running the bases .  Your poetry will be better for it.
Yes, I’m still going away the 7th through the 14th.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

How to Take a Writing Vacation

     It seems prudent to write about writing on vacation.  I say, DON'T DO IT.  In your canvas chair you'll sit in the mountains or by the sea thinking He Who made them and the lamb and the tyger will speak and that finally you'll hear Him in the voice of that beloved dead uncle you never met whom you've been listening for for years and years.  In the words of Sherman Potter, "Bullcookies"!  If it's not happening at home where you live and move and have your being it's not going to happen in Chatham or the Great Smokey Mountains or on the shores of Gitchigoomie.

     Take your journals, your pens, your crappy attitude toward your in-laws who will visit and leave their wet towels on your canvas chair and write every day but don't expect much and don't expect a breakthrough, to be struck by lightning, to see the white buffalo or the black swan.  Sleep, swim, tan, nearly drown, hike yourself breathless, get poison ivy, drink, smoke 'em if you got 'em but don't expect that cat named Kalamazoo to say a mumblin' word.
     Empty your head, change it, abandon yourself to lesser things for a while.  Your mind will work in the background, the unconscious, the subconscious as it always does.  Your're a goddamned poet.  You can't stop it.  But you can't start it either.  Back at home where the lawn needs mowing, where you need to give a spoonrest from Provincetown to the neighbor who (may have) fed the cats and cleaned the litter boxes at least once and the dryer is getting noisy and the 800 number caller from Newark DE is looking for your late car payment IS WHERE YOU WORK IS GROUNDED.  Somehow the poems live there in that stupid place you need a vacation from.
     I urge you (& myself) to learn to write wherever you are.  I also urge you (& myself) to abandon the notion that your magnum opus will arrive at a temporary address during that very week you've chosen to get away from it all when the poems are in it all.

     PS  I'm happy to be back and will be on vacation from the 7th through the 14th.  I will not have internet access and will not post during that time.  And, I will not write anything worth reading in between lobsters (although I actually did once but that took a dying sister to change the equation and I don't think she'll do it again).
     Really, I'm back.  See you later.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

I'm about to resume the blog

And so I'm running this test...get ready!

"Things are a lot more like they used to be than they are now."