Monday, October 19, 2009

since feeling is first

I hate that I'm starting to "get" e. e. cummings. I'm not really sure the old anti-capitalizationist was actually a good writer or if he was more like Gertrude Stein in that he came through during a period when being weird and/or an asshole was enough to convince the contemporary intelligentsia that you were a genius of great proportions.

I hate teaching this crap, though. It's barely more than gibberish to me. To the kids, gibberish would probably make more sense.

since feeling is first
who pays any attention
to the syntax of things
will never wholly kiss you;

wholly to be a fool
while Spring is in the world

my blood approves,
and kisses are a better fate
than wisdom
lady i swear by all flowers. Don't cry
—the best gesture of my brain is less than
your eyelids' flutter which says

we are for each other:then
laugh,leaning back in my arms
for life's not a paragraph

And death i think is no parenthesis

I don't really care too much about poetry in general. Most of it is either stilted or self-serving, although I will admit to digging on the occasional piece of verse. I actually love that William Carlos Williams bit. It's such a subtle fuck-you. The coldness of sentiment in that one has even sparked a fairly active parody scene on the net. Really funny stuff. This American Life even had a segment dedicated to the poem and parodies created by their contributors. If you check out that last link, fast forward to the 50th minute. It'll be worth your time if you haven't heard it before. I know I've linked it before.

I do admire the way the best poets can pack so much meaning into so few words. They don't fall into my personal trap of writing the idea into the ground until it has lost more meaning than it conveys. As for my own writing, I eschew poetry for the most part. I tend to prefer prose. It better fits my disposition, I think. If I were a poet, I'd have to learn to get to the point and quit. I can never seem to do either.

I will write the occasional prose poem, though; if you're a regular reader of this blog, you've probably read several, although you may have not realized that was my intent.

So, to finish, I'll end this ramble with a little stilted cheese of my own.

Driving West on I-16 at Dawn

I find it a little funny that no matter how fast I drive west that the tint of rose in my rear view mirror seems to expand and lighten just as fast as it would had I remained at home. Earth is so much larger than me, so much faster, so much more important. No matter how much I may wish I could keep the next morning from catching up to me, I always end up getting lapped.

By funny, maybe I mean sad.


Chris said...

Heh heh. The WCW poem and the blog of parodies are really amusing. Otherwise, I'm with you --- poetry is usually just full of itself.

Sid said...

I'm not a huge fan of poetry either BUT I do dig Tulips by Sylvia Plath. I have it up on my wall at work. I never, ever tire of it. A Krog's Afrikaans poem to her mother is also brilliant.

Julie said...

I share your poetry sentiments. The are a few that are enhanced by the style. There are far too many where it's just a gimmick.

Partly, I think we may have been ruined by journalism classes. I mean, teenagers do not appreciate poetry because it takes too much energy but in college (where you're supposed to read and write the stuff for fun in coffee houses) I was forever ruined by writing in a journalistic style. I struggled for months with my honors thesis and finally realized it was because of the page requirement. I'd left out the detailed descriptions and metaphors because they were superfluous. I had to go back and add some fluff and it seemed ridiculous after practicing the who, what, when, where and why style for so long.

courtney said...

It's rare that poetry will grab me, but when I find some that does, it sticks with me for a long time. I think for our generation and a bit before, song lyrics take the place of poetry in books. A lot of people can be moved by so much encapsulated emotion; we're just more exposed to it via music.