Thursday, June 22, 2017

man, is it hot!  my walking to and fro is taking quite a toll on this old man.  even the birds are sitting out the day.  i don't know if they could even take to the air cuz a couple days ago it got so blazing hot that they grounded flights in phoenix, arizona.  planes were not allow to take off or land!

okay, i'm used to triple digit temperatures in the summer.  nothing really out of the ordinary about extreme heat, but this one feels a bit different.  a greater intensity.  zaps you silly.  you can't think straight.  nor can you concentrate very long, and even when the air is chilled it still feels hot.  an ambience of heat.  the air looks smudged.  the light is haze.

still, i am doing what i can.  anna got me two tickets to see slowdive in october at the historic fox theater in oakland.  i am taking nick and sharing with him a live performance of one of my favorite bands.  we'll make a day of it.  maybe hang out in berkeley for the day, then drive down telegraph ave to oakland in the evening to see the show.

well, okay.  i'm officially moving to geezerville but i still feel youthful and my loves and obsessions have not diminished.  after 30 years of reading/writing poetry i still get a chemical charge from the art.  poetry is a way of life.  but i was debating last night to purchase the biography of philip whalen, a hero of mine, that was published last year, or the year before.  anyway, i read a few reviews at amazon that said the book is good as a history of the beat era but whalen is such a minor figure that he faded from view.

curious then, i wondered why bother reading bios of writers at all.  because the life of reading/writing is an interior life.  the writer finds the courage and strength to take up language, becomes obsessed with certain authors, then spends the rest of her life sitting still reading/writing.  of course she must make a living doing something.  of course she will probably fall in love, have affairs, experiment with drugs, maybe drink too.  perhaps she loves her children and does not hate her parents etc. etc.

in fact, her life, other than the merging of living with reading/writing, is quite ordinary and dull.  but life, every life, is not minor.  what i love about whalen is how the ego is diminished.  writing is the way of living.  it is, to use the taoist phrase, wu-wei, non-action.  whalen's poetry is goofy, cranky, but it is not sanctimonious, gravely self-important, holier than you, sort of verse.

maybe that's why i usually skip the opening chapters of writer bios because the experiences of childhood are indeed important, critical even, of the development of a person but it is not very interesting because every person has had a unique childhood.  what i'm interested in are the choices writer makes to arrange her life so she can read and write.

no life is minor.  all life is ordinary.  every life is an event.  at least i like to think so.  i was watching a reading on youtube by the british poet jamie mckendrick.  mckendrick was one of those NEW GEN poets, a phrase and image manufactured by the poetry society in the 1990s that included simon armitage, don paterson, roddy lumsden, gwenith lewis et al.  it was declared by the poetry society that poetry was the new rock&roll.  i guess the reason was because this group of poets were young, sexy, and took a page from thom gunn where they wrote about rock&roll and comic books and so on.   well, anyway, poetry is not the new rock&roll, and mckendrick in that reading i watched said he doesn't read poet bios because they are boring.  the life of a poet is to obsess about things that other people don't notice.  the life of a poet is to think about poetry all the time.  during the life of a poet sits in his chair, daydreams, reads, writes, looks at dirty pictures, drinks a few beers, worries about the state of the world and his family's place in it, watches horror/exploitation/all genre movies, is addicted to youtube, and loves his friends and family.

in short, other than the poetry, the life of a poet is quite ordinary.  


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