Tuesday, April 10, 2012

April poems: questioning the genuine act of making poems in the space of performance engendered by blogs and the internet age

I like that Carrie Etter--who invited me to participate in the writing of a poem a day as part of this month's April Poetry Month project--on occasion sends out little emails saying "Hey, want to check in and leave a comment on my blog about how this is going for you?" (click HERE--CARRIE ETTER for her blog) It is not that I feel that excited by what I have to say, but that when I head over to her blog to leave my 2 cents in her comments space I find I enjoy reading about everyone else's successes or failures--that like me a few people have had to double up one day because another was missed, etc. 

But I keep thinking about the nature of writing poems and blogging them or about them.The nature of private and shared space.

I have always felt that the rewords blog I co-founded and love posting on is this kind of a blog-space where the PLAY of poetry is at work, where play is prioritized, where Picasso's adage “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up” is honored and the child is out in the blogosphere messing with language, unconcerned with issues of judgement--Rewords is a space where if what I have put down is completely stupid, flat, lame, in process, drafty, like a room with holes in it, that is ok. Like my poem of the day today, "Eurydice's Vision" which I posted on rewords despite my misgivings about it.

But when I think of putting poems out on blogs elsewhere, even here on my perso blog, I feel like I should manage something better--and then the genuine act of making gets caught up with what feels like to me an ingenuine act of performance. I personally do not want to dance for the crowd. Instead, in the writing, I feel like I want to peel open--myself, my ears, my vision, my body, my soul--if such a thing does exist. 

There are different spaces of making for me, of creating--I believe in being a child and thus getting my hands dirty and tossing stuff round the room and collaging and enjoying the feeling of things emerging, converging. And yet I want also to touch something that is "[...] not a paraphrase or a metaphor for reality but a reality itself." For, in addition to that thought, as I am at the moment in the process also of re-reading Joseph Brodsky's essays on poetry, he reminds me that "The Poem has the quality of an uneasy dream, in which you gain something extremely valuable, only to lose it the very next moment." (On Grief & Reason, essays, Joseph Brodsky, FSG, NY, 1995, p386)

What is interesting is that in this essay, Brodsky argues that that getting at "a reality itself" comes from a poem "being a conscious act". There, at that point, is where our paths diverge. 

For there is something of the conscious, of the lucid dream in really great moments of writing, in moments when you feel the language and you have merged and that what is emerging from you is genuine on every level--formal, narrative, expressive, etc. But it is a lucid dream which at the same time is perhaps changing course because a second driver steps in, takes over, surprises you, leaps out of the closet or rounds the corner--the line swerves, the old-fashioned meters and rhymes of many of the great lyric poets would diverge from their regularity at some crucial moment and that would make ALL of the difference. 

For me, then, the conscious, that lucidity is lost magnificently buried in the subconscious. The dream-state takes over from the lucid me at moments, and the writing self lets it. 

In a space of blogs, the internet, of sending the written writing straight out onto the pavement to get run down or perhaps lauded somehow hollows out that process. I guess what I am saying is that the poem remains for me a private act. The best poems take time--though the draft may be able to flop down onto the page one day, the tinkering that accompanies that first gesture often takes the poem to its reality. The child and the adult, the unconscious and the conscious, the lucid and the uneasy-out-of-control dream are both necessary for the poem to be. 

I guess what I am saying is that though I love knowing we are many of us tossing words onto pages this month, giving parts of every day writing poems, that there will of course be a great difference between these drafts or notes for poems and final "Poems" with a capital P, if such things do exist.


Jennifer K Dick said...

Seems appropriate that after writing this post I came accross Greg Bachar's post of Tapies' quote on FB: "We must find the antidote that will help us escape from ourselves." Antoni Tapies, "Art As Cure"

Sarah Lariviere said...

how i love your long post title.


"the genuine act of making gets caught up with what feels like to me an ingenuine act of performance. I personally do not want to dance for the crowd. Instead, in the writing, I feel like I want to peel open--myself, my ears, my vision, my body, my soul--if such a thing does exist."

i'll ask or maybe just add that performance shouldn't be not genuine. think about improvisational music, comedy--unrepeatable-- acting--

and gestures, drawing and-- ! drawing? improvisation is artful.

the gesture!


Margo Berdeshevsky said...

Yes, jen, and to your other comment makers, too...improv can certainly be artful. Tho often- unfinished, &/or not really ready for consumption even as eye-candy. But the act of finessing a poem, and rewriting, and making it that object not so different from Michel Ange's notion of chipping away the marble to find the angel hidden within it... that act takes time. (An art object or form that is made to be burned up in the flame of making, or tossed into the trial and error pile, I would prefer to keep private.) The thing is, the child in us wants instant approval, instant feedback, often. So we send it out there, post it on the net somewhere, send to a dozen fellow "makers," hoping for a brava, when what the work may require is the dark drawer until we return to it a day or a year later to keep on chipping away at the stone.

The net, & blogs, & the many newest etceteras of publishing make it so that one may easily drown in the "too much" of it all, with little discernment. Keeping the creative soul naked and vulnerable and active, a foundation that is so needed, absolutely...does not mean becoming instantly performative.

My two cents,
with care,

Carrie Etter said...

Hi, Jen. I feel similarly, which is why I rarely post drafts of my poems and don't ask others to post theirs as part of my NaPoWriMo challenge. I need to let the work stay embryonic to be happy with the process. Sometimes I get excited about what I've done and do post a draft, but that's usually left me feeling disappointed by the silence that follows.

I'm really glad you're along for the ride, Jen, and I appreciate your thoughtfulness about the experience, too. I'm getting more out of it this year than any other largely because of the greater sense of community through the blog--reading those posts helps renew my commitment.