Sunday, November 14, 2010

From a different pre-MFA-worship era: Poem called SHALL WE MARCH FORTH?

Years ago, when SoCal poets spoke to each other on listserves rather than via Facebook, a poet suggested that the local community pull together to advance the status and (assuming) the visibility of poetry.  It didn't happen, but here's a poem I wrote inspired by that post:

(inspired by the author responding to
a post where a poet was concerned
that reaching out to a broad audience
meant “watering down” the “art”
of poetry?)

This reminds me of when I used to
go to Screen Actors Guild meetings
and hear complaints that
letting too many background actors
(extras) join the union
would be ruinous
to the art of Acting.

Poets shouldn’t have to worry so much
about “watering down” their work
for the masses when a lot of them
make a strong effort to avoid
intersecting with the masses
under any circumstances.

I’d like to envision a future where poets
could take the stage at Pershing Square
to entertain the lunch-break office
workers, street people and
random passers-by.
Or what remains of the Fairfax
Farmer’s Market,
the Federal Building in Westwood,
etc. etc.

Somewhere besides the usual
coffeehouses and bookstores-
or the usual alternative ways of intersecting
with the public
(“on the bus” readings).

Can we March Forth?

Or will we march into
an early grave-
complaining that
the “stupid masses”
will never appreciate
our brilliance
no matter what we did
or didn’t want to do
or tried to do
or merely thought about doing?

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