"I am an idealistic, naive, passionate, truth-seeking, spiritually motivated artist, unschooled in the science of law and finance." --Wesley Snipes

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

A Letter To Jess Mynes

Jess,

Thanks for reading my posts. I bear no responsibility for any injuries incurred by the head spinning.

I don't know how to measure intent. I do know, however, that in this po-world (which is and isn't the real world) one is expected to stake a claim. Those who do not are considered intellectually flabby, or not serious enough. Unfortunate, but true. This is why manifestoes get written, why wars get waged. The more marginalized one's chosen art is, the more tenaciously one clings to one's idea of that art. If you're going to care about poetry, you'd better care about it in the right way! The truth is, of course, that no one cares. I've noticed that since I have begun to "publicize" the new sincerity, I suddenly have a lot of new friends and nearly as many new detractors. Nothing's changed about who I am, what I do, my views on poetry, what foods I eat, who I fuck, etc. Simply by naming my practice, by appearing to have an aesthetic stance, I have invited both applause and derision. Those who claim that life is separate from poetry are not paying attention.

Those people who do want poetry--or who think they want poetry--often actually only want a preconceived notion of what a Poet is. I once gave a reading, along with several other good poets and one horrible poet who over-enunciated each word, used the "Poet Voice," packed every poem with references to Sarte and the Seine and his (the poet's) own cosmopolitan adventures, was deadly boring. had everything but the black beret. Point is this: he got a standing ovation from a whole row of "poetry lovers." I wanted to vomit. Instead, I just drank a beer and realized that that's what you do. Or what some people do. My version of that is "hey, look at me," I'm sincere! Which, as Jonathan Mayhew pointed out recently, comes off as just as much a construction as any other point of view, however legitimate it is. Even honesty is questioned, presumed to be ironic, in this day of wink and smile.

Deschutes is a brewery in Bend, Oregon. Their beers are excellent across the board, and widely available in the Wild West. Not a bad brew among them, but their Obsidian Stout is to die for. Or if I said things like "to die for," their Stout would be that.

What engages me about a poet like Coolidge is that his mastery of language extends far beyond jokery. cleverness, and even deep erudition. He knows how to work with the sounds of language so that they register an emotional timbre. I've never read anyone like him. In this, he comes the closest to music of any poet i know.

I'm going to post this "private" response on my blog. I look forward to hearing from you again.

Yrs,
Tony

3 comments:

gina said...

"I do know, however, that in this po-world (which is and isn't the real world) one is expected to stake a claim. Those who do not are considered intellectually flabby, or not serious enough."

Thanks. I needed a good cry.

Tony said...

Care to explain?

gina said...

Okay, but you get an analogy rather than a debate. Sentiment included.

I was watching this kid in the back yard next door who was playing by the fence with his Legos. He was talking to himself and burying the blocks in the mud and picking up little rocks to add to the story, and though I don’t know how his story went, I could tell it was good because he didn’t look in my direction when I dropped my shovel and said something about fucking caliche and the heat--and the longer I was out there the more brilliant that kid doing his own thing with the Legos seemed to me because he didn’t give a rats ass for what Legos are supposed to do or that they were muddy and clogged with rock, and I started worrying about the moment in his life—very soon now—when someone would tell him he’s doing Legos all wrong and make him clean up his mess and make him feel small and stupid for doing his thing:

which is to my mind is what staking a claim is about—-telling others how to play with their Logos—-right? I mean why can’t everybody play their own way? Dejalo. That kid is serious enough. Let him be.