Sunday, March 9, 2014

sharon and kelly in the garage

An Apologie to Poesie for Havinge No Defence 

2/ 12/ 14

I wish I could boast a less ambivalent take on poetry, it figuring so prominently in my life. Or at least articulate the stronger allegiance which I do have in my heart. In my Romantic days, my sentiments coursed aortic and flush-valved parallel Sir Philip Sidney’s. Below, for purposes of contrast with my waffling assessment, I have included the last portion of his vehement and hilarious response to poetry haters across time and space. Sidney’s Defense of Poesie was published in the late 17th century. He did not have a blog.

But if—fie of such a but!—you be born so near the dull-making cataract of Nilus, that you cannot hear the planet-like music of poetry; if you have so earth-creeping a mind that it cannot lift itself up to look to the sky of poetry, or rather, by a certain rustical disdain, will become such a mome [blockhead—ed.], as to be a Momus of poetry; then, though I will not wish unto you the ass’ ears of Midas, nor to be driven by a poet’s verses, as Bubonax was, to hang himself; nor to be rimed to death, as is said to be done in Ireland; yet thus much curse. I must send you in the behalf of all poets:—that while you live in love, and never get favor for lacking skill of a sonnet; and when you die, your memory die from the earth for want of an epitaph.

Poetry. It's a sensitive subject for poets. A good reason not to consider yourself one. Certainly don't call yourself one. Exception to the former--none. Exception to the latter--someone is offering $50 cash to the first ten people to call themselves a poet. Like, “No, here, just take it" kind of cash; "that part about the 'azure eyes and cascading hair' was poetic."

Not like, "Do you want to enter for a chance to win our inaugural issue's Second Annual Walt Whitman Prize for Emerging Voices? Your part? Via our submissions manager, simply send (along with a three dollar reading fee, four dollar submissions manager fee, twenty dollar contest fee) the second quatrain of your strongest Shakespearean sonnet written as a non-facetious homage to Ginsberg. The prize? $50 and free entry into your choice of our 1] Second Annual Walt Whitman Prize for Emerging Voices 2] second issue's inaugural Annual Walt Whitman Prize for Passé Voices.*

*Prize subject to change pending non-sufficient participation and/ or the editor's determination of non-sufficient non-facetiousness.

Poetry. Fine, it's a sensitive subject for now aging emerging poets and now jaded no-named poets and now uninspired dying poets.

Poetry. It was an early affinity of mine— just ask most anyone who knew me. An early virtuosity—just ask my mother. It was an adolescent infatuation, pursued with goofy zeal for long stretches, passing into my periphery for short whiles, but destined for awkward collision and renewed zeal, less goofy somehow—the early affinity poking through, the early, let's call it proficiency (mom) this time waking up.

Poetry. Like long hair, angst, and Camel Lights, it grew into part of my undergraduate identity. So blond, so existential, soo smooth. I'll meet you at the Slam after work. To. Denigrate. Spo. Ken . . . wordpoetryoverdollar cansof luke . . . WARM?! P! B! R. But. Are we? Our we? Ouïe we . . . Are. Ours.

When I graduated college, I got back to life. The one with poetry back-burnered while the calluses grew. The sickening, satisfying life of flat-top grills, ham steaks and sweat, deep-fryers, chicken fried steak, and scalded arms. Crazy struggles, but sane pursuits. Poetry. Too effortful and insane. Back-burnered, forgotten, scorched.

However, creativity-wise, I wrote and played deeply cathartic rock songs with good old forever-five, Andrew, in a garage on an old, black acoustic named Sharon and a gleaming red Les Paul named Kelly. Poetry. Surreptitiously. Under a haze and the watchful eyes of a cat somehow mellowing on top of a raucous amplifier or snoozing in the folds of a raggedy kick drum pillow. Her name was Stank Rock. Poetry.

But too soon . . . Call of the wild. Response of the mild. Return of the once-considered, so-called poet. Call of the scholar. I went back to school and learned how to write better. Much better, even I eventually and gladly had to agree. Work I was proud of and equipped to improve upon. I got a crisp new diploma and a license to submit poetry to small literary journals. Acceptance, rejection--a real-live, semi-pro. Scarcely a thought to eye color or hair flow. A way of life, a state of mind. I shall preach the way. I shall teach the state.

Brain tumors. A way of life, a state of mind. Also poetry. Might as well live them as well as I can, might as well mind them as often as I can.

Fortuitously, I am good enough—just ask most any of my friends, and equipped enough—ask
the occasional editor of labor-of-love literary journals, and I am at my copious leisure enough—just ask my family.

*An Apologie for Poetrie, ed Edward Arber (London, 1858), with additional material from Sidney’s Apologie for Poetrie, ed. J. Churton Collins (Oxford, 1907) and The Defense of Poesy, ed A. S. Cook (Boston, 1890).

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