saturday night: a poetics
last night i found myself adrift on youtube after falling asleep watching the band the silversun pickups perform live at coachella music festival. i find the band a little boring. hence my sleeping thru their set. but perhaps it is mere age because after a sunday spent doing household things i watched a TED talk given by a man who thinks we will live on mars by 2027. i fell asleep to that too. seriously, living on fucking mars!? not that we can't not do it but the hubris of our species who believe we must reach out beyond the stars and populate the universe is galling. the universe doesn't need us. it doesn't even know we are here on earth.
anyway, i woke up last night and found myself wide awake. i typed james dickey in the search bar and watched that wonderful clip of dickey playing the sheriff at the end of the film deliverance . dickey was enamored of technology. i read somewhere dickey mused aloud if there had been audio and visual of keats or coleridge or rimbaud what a boon that would be. i think dickey would have probably embraced the internet and youtube too. so anyway that video led me to others including a clip of dickey together with robert lowell. i'd been thinking of lowell a couple days ago. nothing deep. but that lowell had been a very early love of mine. i recall back in the late 1980s i spent a lovely afternoon in the haight in s.f. while my then girlfriend visited her girlfriend. they were doing some major catch up and i wanted to explore the city. while they visited i took off in search of everything.
i found a bookstore, a rather large one, i think it was called booksmith, with a large poetry section. i was still learning to read poetry. i gobbled up everything i could by berryman, lowell, hart crane and dylan thomas. so when i found a robert lowell biography in hardcover for a pittance i snatched it up. i had a lovely afternoon in the haight -- the neighborhood was so post-hippie and wonderfully scrungy -- secure in my purchase of a good book. i discovered charles olson in the bio too. and gregory corso. yes, both poets make an appearance in the life of robert lowell. poets who seem antithetical to each other share in the common art of poetry. in my mind, then and now, there are no divisions or hierarchies in poetry. we are all brothers and sisters in the art.
so when i have friends who are post-beat, l=a=n=g=u=a=g=e, confessional, traditional rhyme and meter, street, small press and not so small press, etc. etc. i am in no distress by diversity. i call myself an alt-lyric poet because the phrase is a catch-all for a diversified poetics. i take my reading and writing seriously. i take my living seriously too. life and poetry are too large to be so narrowly divided.
so after reading a bit of lowell this morning while sitting on the john i thought of the wonderful poet reginald shepherd who was -- is -- a brilliant prose writer as well. in shepherd we find a poetics that terms the traditional and the experimental into a profound experience he called lyric postmodernisms, the title of an anthology of poetry he edited. shepherd tendered the tradition of poetry to encompass the whole of life and experiment. as i read reginald shepherd's poetics took the best of everything poetry could supply.
i could not fall asleep reading and watching dickey, lowell and shepherd. i was up late, real late. tho my saturday night extended to early sunday morning i was half dead from exhaustion but was also so alive with poetry.