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Harriet’s the second blog I’ve posted on. The last one was about art which could include poetry and I did it for a year.
It seemed to me that a blog is an extension of an earlier journalistic idea, the column, and in my own writing history, the column was a follow-up on my presidential campaign, circa 1991-92. The campaign was over but I still needed to talk. I mean publickly. The presidential campaign was a follow-up on improvisational performance art and the performance art was a follow up both on a life of writing and reading poetry aloud and also getting sober which encourages a person to talk a lot or learn to talk without a drink in their hand. I think language is a big drink. When I think about doing my first poetry readings there was a danger of being too loaded when I got up there so I tried to keep it to a few beers and I could get really blasted after. Once I stopped drinking it’d be diet coke or water. I think all the time about the phenomenon of watching the poet drink water, that silent pause in which the poet offers her throat to the room to keep the pipes wet and moving the words along. It’s sort of glorious to post here on poetry because it’s putting the beginning and the end of language together. Poetry being the beginning of language and the post representing now which is not an end at all but a kind of boundary. People get upset about how irresponsible the blogosphere is and it reminds me a little bit about the raging a few years back in the mainstream press about memoirs by people who had hardly had their lives yet. I remember one pundit calling these memoirs by people who weren’t yet tipping over into the grave “half lives” and coincidentally so many of these people were female authors and young. People not officially entitled to speak about their own existence yet. What do they know. In its heyday of the memoir definitely aired some hot topics. Incest was big, alcoholism still is, and if you can separate it from incest and we must the memoirist might even write about her family. Something the memoirist had survived – a mountain climb or a disease would also be a good subject.
At 13 posts to go after this I’m needing a little consideration of the form. And what about all its attachments, the thread. I sometimes write a post and don’t read the comments for days but they do come into my email, my home so to speak. Eventually I go. There’s something sweaty and heated about going down into that hall where all the talk is going on that just makes my blood pound. I just called someone (or a class of someone’s) ‘bozos’ which constitutes the worst name-calling I’ve indulged in so far though maybe homophobe, sexist and I forget what else are slightly worse. Bozo seems personal to me, verging on gross whereas the others seem like appraisals of someone’s thoughts and work. I know that these terms aren’t as easily used as they were even ten years ago because identity politics are supposed to be over but that seems so convenient for the people who don’t call themselves anything, just thinking men and the women who think just like them. I think all of us are complexes of stuff: gender and class and level of income and class affiliation and occupation and sexual persuasion and race and aesthetic, very important, and geographical location, age and ethnicity. You know what I mean. I kind of enjoy being down there in the thread once in a while where a lot less women go. Do women have better things to do, or just don’t read or write in blogs as much or would prefer to watch. I like to get down there and swing. As a little girl I liked to fight too. I love the experience of doing a blog and getting paid to do it (which I think is kind of tacky to mention but it’s out there, so…) justifies it to me in a way because though I do a lot of things for free including poetry which includes blurbs and recommendations, and talks and so much else I do have to make a living. And what a blog feels most like to me is talking. And getting paid to do it which is the best. I’ll talk about money for a while or slightly because I think my greatest crime in a recent post was contemplating the perceived wealth of another writer. Is that so bad. Yes. It makes people go crazy. And I honestly don’t know why except that someone has something to protect. What that something is: you tell me. But the blog is a synthesized version of all those things above – the column, the campaign and so on. And even one of those crazy teevee talk shows. Where people seemingly would say anything just to be on teevee. I don’t watch those but I really love it all. It makes me think about the life of a city street and New York where I currently have just come home to from a traveling summer and I remember reading a nineteenth century account of New York and how if a horse fell down in the street and a crowd gathered and someone would stick a handbill (selling something) on the felled horse. And things are essentially the same now. This ad, this already not so new tool is in my experience is a people’s art. Or a peoples’ practice. The public sort. If people sneer at how uncontrollable a thing a blog is that’s because really any bozo can stick an ad on a dying horse (our empire) and plenty of bozos write them. Some of those bozos are saving us from the mainstream news world which doesn’t tell us anything, and bozo world also frees us from the world of mainstream publishing which does publish some wonderful poets and other writers but mostly it underlines poetry’s weird and wonderful dilemma which is that no one’s really knows what a poem is – though lately I think of it as speech searching for itself in all directions. The innate unmanageability of poetry makes mainstream publishers either make conservative choices or be obedient to someone’s list or ideas but often it just seems like manners to me. We (and that’s an appropriated we) publish poets we’d like to have dinner with. It’s like the academy. We hire people who feel good in the room. And there is a room. Poetry is many rooms. How do we represent that. Poetry doesn’t mind so much if you don’t have dinner with it, though poetry needs to get heard and be read and that only eventually. At some point the message needs to arrive. There needs to be some hope of that. In the work or in the world. So poetry stays a little thin because not everyone can invite poetry to dinner in all its versions but it always finds a home and a blog is increasingly what is giving it that. It speeds things along, making connections which is the thing that gets obstructed most by our institutions and in our big (and failing) media. I hope it remains irresponsible. A spiky and oddly comforting place. After 32 years of living in New York I now have an air-conditioner in my apartment and I will soon write about that. I look forward to a flood of no comments. It’s cool in here in the now time of the fires and the floods and the big melt coming down. No more ice on the planet by 2013. We need to talk a lot, right