12 February 2007

poetically challenged!

I received a phone call this evening from the gentleman who taught me to walk on stilts some years ago (of course I did. oh funny bloggy life.), saying that he has been successfully wasting his valuable time reading this blog for a bit now (well, thank Gods someone else is wasting their time, tho' I imagine it's nowhere near as much time as I have been wasting writing it.)
ANYHOW. He was re-directed the other day to my old blog of 2005, where I stated at some point my general dislike for poetry, (excepting, of course, some remarkable and life changing authors (ee cummings, Stephen Crane, Lewis Carroll, etc.).)
So why did he call, dear readers?
To propose a CHALLENGE.
He is going to send me 100 poems over the next while.
I am to read them.
For each one I like I am to donate $1 to my favourite charity, and for each one I dislike, he will donate $1 to my favourite charity.
Goodness. I'm not sure I even have a favourite charity.
I'm not very charitable.
(Except when I'm far too charitable, but that's a different issue altogether)
Small furry animals are of course the first things that pop to mind, but I think Volcano Theatre would well win out as the most apt choice, if for no other reason than their staging of Varieté so many years ago, which made me LOSE MY MIND. (Varieté being "a vaudeville show inspired by the music of Argentinian/German composer, Mauricio Kagel, featuring dance, acrobatics, contortion, burlesque, clowning, magic and the text of Griffin Award winning poet Heather McHugh. Conducted by Robin Engleman.")

So. We shall see how this unfurls.

For the moment, though, I feel a short explanation of my antagonism to the poetic medium is in order.
How is it possible that an artsy minion such as myself, who works at a literary journal and a poetry-publishing indie press, dislikes poetry?
sigh. well, i don't strictly speaking. I am an ardent fan of all things written, and poetry has its place there.
BUT. I have the same misgivings about poetry that I have for contemporary art; why, for the most part, I prefer (ahem) naked italian angels on ceilings, and creepy etchings of spanish wars and monsters (Dear Goya) to nails stuck in the wall with titles like the state of my soul and such.
I just feel like so much poetry (and so much contemporary art) doesn't allow their audience in. So many poets (and artists) get cheeky, thinking they can outwit their readers with their clever ambiguity. (NOT ALL, mind you, NOT ALL, and I hope you will understand I am NOT advocating the composition or publication of literary pablum)
I read poems from here and there that do throw me across the proverbial room, but I respect people who use language to clarify themselves, rather than hide themselves.
Unless they are playing about, which is rampantly obvious, and rampantly enjoyable to read as well.
Art, in my small mind, should be beautiful or useful, but not baffling. Unless baffling, to the individual experiencing it, is useful. In which case I am fully in favour of that too.

1 comment:

clicclic said...

...I always thought of you more as someone who simply hates bad poets (which are epidemic!) rather than one who dislikes poetry.

it seems in the 21st century that artists and poets have been largely trained by artists and poets; the new breed have learned how to 'affect' art and affect poetry just enough to get noticed (it looks & smells like a poem, therefore...). Previously it was people of very diverse backgrounds coming to the table and using common tools/mediums to unify and describe their experiences; suddenly one can understand the positions of both the WW II Field Marshall and the decadent Aesthete.

Nevertheless, I think the $1 challenge is a gorgeous, noble, delicious thing to undertake.

(the verification word I've been asked to type in for this comment is "meoupx". Exactly like the sound of a cat with a small cold.)

"The artistic temperament is a disease that affects amateurs." G.K.Chesterton