Thursday, September 11, 2008

Trying To Be Brilliant, Not Pleading To Be Known

I move, intellectually, in a triangle between politics, religion and poetry. In the past one has always been in the ascendant at a particular time of the year. I'm obsessing on the iniquities of the Tories, or thinking about nothing except my zazen cushion, or I'm writing reams and reams of haiku and whatever. Lately I've been trying to find a balance between them all so that I can find time to indulge each without neglecting the others. Abandon this habit of phases for this or that. And I've been doing all right, though poetry still suffers a little bit.

I have seriously fallen out of love with publishing poetry. I have done it--not as often as some, but I've done it. So it's not the rationalisation of a defeated man. I'm just struggling to believe there's any merit in it anymore. Does publishing mean you are any good? You'd think so, but so much of what is published (I include mine) is mediocre, or average, or uninteresting. So much of it does nothing to advance the craft or help us look into our lives and our world with deeper understanding. So little of it is magical. You read Basho or Issa and inwardly you go, "Aww!" feeling wonder at the quality of their minds or the beauty of their language stirring in your breast. You read Tu Fu or Li Po or Richard Brautigan or d.a levy or Ronald Baatz and it makes you laugh and cry and see the world with new eyes. How much of what you find on MySpace makes you do that?

Perhaps it doesn't have to do that, but that's what I'm looking for. A lot of the time it seems that all you have to do to get published is know the right people, or write a competent poem in the tone that suits an editor's prejudice. Or sound just enough like Bukowski or have just enough references to booze and worms.

I can do that if I set my mind to it--I can do all of that--but at the moment I really don't want to.So I write poems for my own pleasure instead, using some of the poets mentioned above as touchstones. Trying to be brilliant rather than pleading to be known. Whether it works or not in the long run only time will tell.

When a poem that rivals Basho is tossed into a bin bag and thrown into a skip to fortify the karma of the crows and blackbirds at the rubbish tip.


Holly said...

this is not related. just telling you to check your facebook inbox dear.

Sharon Auberle said...

love the caption at the top of your blog..
and agree with your take on publishing. sometimes it just seems way too much trouble and, in the overall scheme of things, unimportant. yet, if only one person gets it-- something you've written--and is touched by it, or changed, though you will never know, THAT is what's vital. and i know those people are out there, because you write GOOD STUFF...

All This Trouble... said...

There used to be a junk store down the road named Treasure & Trash. That's very much how I look at writing and all the other forms of personal expression. I agree with Sharon. I believe that if a piece touches and moves just one person it is not in vain. And just think about how thrilling it is to stumble across an unknown, on MySpace even, that rattles your cage and knocks your socks off! It's just like finding a priceless item in a junk store. I'm very happy to have found your sites.

Bruce Hodder said...

Have done, hun.

Bruce Hodder said...

Sharon/ Kim,
Thank you for the vote of confidence. I am given to thinking in very polar terms at times. Things either have to be one way or the other. In truth, of course, they can often be a shade of both. You are right, if you can enrich another person's life (or even their day) with something you have written that's a good thing. Maybe expecting anything else is pretentious, even. I do feel, sometimes, that I have seen and experienced everything before. That what the poetry world needs is to be knocked on his spreading bottom by another "Howl" or the emergence of an Ezra Pound for the twenty first century. But when it happens it will happen. And if I'm not that man, which I'm not, it's pretty unreasonable of me to knock anybody else for failing to be him.

All This Trouble... said...

Well, yeah...sure, Bruce, everyone WANTS to be a rockstar. Trust me, I know. But nowadays, I do most of my rockin' wearing a mu'umu'u and holding a baby. But the dream and hope are still there. And if I make it to eighty, I hope to still feel like Pat Benatar deep inside my wrinkled core.