Wednesday, April 14, 2010

MidPoMo Muttermutter

The heck with lilacs and dead land, tax season for Met fans is the very definition of cruelness. But more to the point, a little unexpected business and the pace of posting grinds to a halt. Not exactly cruel, but definitely disheartening when you feel like you've found a rhythm (7 posts in 11 days - unheard of in this little corner of the internets). Anyway....


Attended Diane Lockward's reading last weekend, the second annual event where she works with students in a local college's Poetry class. The students learn her work, design a reading for her to deliver, then host her in it. It's interesting to see what people who (1) have little emotional attachment to the work and (2) aren't in PoBiz look for in a reading. The students selected more of Diane's darker work (not that her books don't contain darkness, but her readings don't usually feature it); I suppose that shouldn't surprise me, should it?


Maureen Berzok continues her tour of NJ Poets, landing on Peter Murphy, Amiri Baraka and BJ Ward, Charles Johnson, and Frank Finale in the past week. Wow.

NJ always amazes me with its diverse and active community of poetry voices, so I was a little surprised this evening to find that a celebration / open-mic at my local library had been cancelled due to lack of interest. We seem to think that a National Whatever Month will bring the Whatever to people not already members of the Whatever community, but I don't think that's how it works. It seems to be a reminder to those who already hold the interest to make some time to celebrate. Not that that is a bad idea, but I don't know that it's the intent.

There are exceptions, of course. Diane Lockward leads a poetry reading in honor of Women's History month - a nice juxtaposition of interests - that attracts a large (and not exclusively female) crowd. I'm thinking the point for us as poets and lovers of poetry should be to use the art to connect outside the indoctrinated, or to bring something new to an event where poetry isn't an obvious direction.

Like Father's Day, maybe?


The cancelled poetry event at my library wasn't a total loss. I signed up for a "Blind Date With A Book", an event where you get a book for free with the request to read it. That's all. If you write a short review, you can be eligible for an iPod Nano. Sounds like a good deal to me. Tell you more about the book when I get into it.

I also borrowed George Carlin's last book and Steve Allen's How To Be Funny. I've always felt a kindred spirit between comics and poets - particularly comic strip writers and poets. File these under the heading of "continuous personal development". And "Good bedtime beading".


Rather long an interesting debate going on in the New Poetry discussion group about "taking a break from" "difficulty poetry", which has evolved into definitions of a scale of accessibility and what it says about the writer and the reader. I don't think it'd be in the spirit of the group to reproduce it all here (and it would be a colossal chore to cut an paste it all), but you can imagine some of the vectors the discussion has followed. As usual, there are those who consider "accessible" a synonym for "simplistic". Surely that's not always the case.

I think the whole argument misses the point. For me, there are only two questions that matter: "Is this a poem?" and "What can I get out of it?" The former specifically asks for awareness and evidence of craft. The second is can be answered in infinite ways, from providing a good story, to being a great example of form, to teaching me mythology, to anything else.

When we look at a piece of visual art, do we consider "accessibility"? No, we classify it and determine if we like it. That's it. Same should apply here.


Tomorrow is Tax Day, MidPoint of NatPoMo, and a day off for all the 3B on my fantasy baseball team. There's a certain combination of peace and pain in each of those, don't you think?

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