The trajectory of this year's poetry bathing has taken me from total immersion to arid heave. Since moving two years ago, from the molten core of the globe's poetry universe to the rarefied air upstate of poema non grata...I've seen my lilliputian waveform flicker on life support. Watching benignly, like one of those marshmallow cherubs observing a maggot disguised as a scent, I only recently began to wonder if I should do something. Not that I was such a cultured being in the city, I just took the easily available readings for granted. By fact of being in the city, the exposure to the "distractions" of culture either satisfy or deplete your hunger.
A year ago, a poetry friend chided me with a palpably exhausted sense of wanderlust, "at least now you have an excuse for not going to all your friend's readings." Meaning...I could now concentrate on my work, uninterrupted by the barrage of events which accumulate each season.
So I wondered about the "distraction" of accumulated events. Realizing, after a life of urban sponge-sucking, that I had adapted my poetic antennae, like a city-bred-hyena-shinned amoeba growing another soul-patch, to catch the whims and vigor (w&v) of my friends, then to store newly acquired w&v in my hollowed-out-whitmanesque-cheeks for later vomitorium-feeding, all the while able to manipulate my remaining scrawn to complete the existing w&v I'd already begun...knowing...I could access that NEW w&v at a later feeding while maintaining previously unescapable drivel and dimension from previously unassailable w&v.
Only now I was sort of faced with not having any excuse. Did my two hour commute each way really contribute to my newfound valhalla of "no distractions?" Where was the by-product of this long experiment? For the sake of this report, I'll ignore the already monumental heft of two obstacles; my job and my three-year old boy's incredibly opportunistic distractions growing by leaps and bounds (l&b) every second...and concentrate on the writing dismemberment of my newly gifted "free time."
And so, I explored some impromptu formulas & charts, in an effort to find equations which might calculate the value of leaving one distraction for the other:
Let's say a poem comes to you twice as fast in the city because there's more inspiration (C1 x 2 = P2). However there's so much inspiration your brain may not know the poem has arrived (P2 - b = 0) bringing you back to square one (U + 0 = 1) but more tired because you missed out on something you thought you felt but are now just clogged about (1 + √2-bV %= Z > ?). Using this simple formula, a poem would have appeared to me 14,357 times last year but only 600 of them would have been caught. My ear-slash-heart formula, discerning feeling from worth (H-f ∞ w √v2 = P), would have tried to extract 300 of them out of this "raw" inspiration leaving me with 50 poems I would feel comfortable presenting at a reading.
Now let's say a poem comes to you in the country half as fast because there's less to look at (P - 1 = 0). However the notion of less in the country is more than it is in the city (C1 - C2 = +1&2) because there is less city distraction around you (C2 ÷ º) and more open space (x-2=+) to redirect the position of your inspiration (x^ > xv) slash distraction (xvVv√ = C) thereby inhibiting your initial response (U = ?) but heightening your newly acquired sensorial experience (1 + √1-bH∞ = E><¬~s0¡). Doing the math, the long words that convert nature into a sonnet would have penetrated my g-force follicles at a lesser rate of 9,750 times in the same period but this time, about 1,200 of them would have lodged in my brain...about triple the amount previously. Yet, using my cannonball-suck-filter™ I would have extracted content from worth and found about a quarter less poems I might show to my mother.
If you add to that, the rush hour reality of navigating through a sea of bodies in Times Square with a camera welded to your naval, capturing the oncoming herd...multiplied by the same amount of flowers being hurdled over during a spring rain...the answer is pretty obvious. The amount of work I've created when I could have been going to readings has more than doubled the amount of time spent losing all contact from my peers. Which brings us back to a simpler time, before speed became the distraction. Before the place you started from became the place you bounced off from. Landing on your favorite reader. Each bounce, another poem. Trite, mastiff, engorged.
A self-proclaimed “lingualisualist” rooted in the languages of sight and sound, Edwin Torres was born in the Bronx and is a longtime resident of New York City. He is a poet whose highly acclaimed performances and live shows combine vocal and physical improvisation and theater. He is the author of...