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The pressure is on…must come up with a post.
Of late I have been occupied with real world concerns that have nothing to do with poetry, although everything has to do with poetry, I suppose. Everything is the matter, in two senses, the urgency and the raw material, as netted by a seine of words. This can lead a poet to feel not immersed in life, but rather combing life as she moves through it: has this poetic potential? No. And now it is evening, how about this feeling that the twilight is salting me like a rib steak? Oh wait, I think I’m having an epiphany. Let me see if I can have it in such words that when I write them down and sort them out, you’ll be…what? What am I expecting from you? I am an old-fashioned sort of poet. I want to do something to you the reader.
So we go through life in a blur of poetic assessment. When I was young, I trained to be a field biologist, but I proved to be a poor observer. Hey blackbird just sitting there, why don’t you do something?
The problem I worry about is that a person (=me) starts shaping a life that will be in service to the poem. And that leads to certain allowable and disallowable zones. Going into the Louisiana prison systems (I just finished C.D. Wright’s One Big Self)—yes, allowable. Tending to a dying parent?—permitted. Blogging…er…seems rather impermissible. We (or rather I) haven’t figured out how to include computers in our poems. Sick dog?—I hated dog poems before I got a dog. Sex and psychopaths were the rage for maybe twenty years but I think they are on their way out. In fact, the style of writing specifically about something is maybe on its way out.
I had these thoughts because for the past week or so I’ve been spending my time setting up a web site (I am not computer-savvy but a friend is helping, I’m more the accumulator of facts.) And though I’ve been too busy to write (the dog also needed surgery) in the back of my mind I’m always weighing experience: Poem? Poem? but that does not seem to be a very present way to live.
Yet I made something happen, though I felt poetically uncool and embarrassed about it: I am trying to protect the great blue herons that nest in my neighborhood (see olyfriendsofherons.org.) I know the New York School of poets famously professed a disinterest in politics, and the New York School Seems To Have Won. Local politics are especially off limits….has a poet ever run for a city council seat? Wouldn’t that seem somehow demeaning (and why?)
Anyway, it turned out the state wildlife managers were unaware of the heron rookery. So I made some small thing happen. Yet I think: poem? poem? It seems I have now a mandate to make a poem of a heron.