Sunday, May 6, 2012

Recycled poetry observations from 2009--with updated thoughts.

I just looked at some old blog posts and stumbled across the one from early in 2009 where I took exception to a review that G. Murray Thomas wrote on of my chapbook "yellow tree red sky"--and in retrospect, I shouldn't have been surprised about some of his negativity since a few months earlier, I wrote a post discussing a not-positive Murray review of North Hollywood poet/host Radomir Luza's then-current chapbook.  And I should have been more aware (in the sense of SoCal poetry politics) at the time that criticizing a critic and then submitting a chapbook for his review might have consequences.

Here's the portion of my early 2009 post that still resonates with truth over three years later:
When I began going to open-mikes almost eleven years ago [now over fourteen years ago], there were coffeehouse and independent bookstore readings that made room for just about everything, like a variety show: "serious" literary poetry, traditional rhyme-and-meter verse, monologues, stand-up comedy, musicians, etc. etc [plus slam poets in open mike or as features]. And Murray seems to have cast his lot with the hosts and influential poets in LA/OC that seem to think that only "serious" poetry should be allowed with the other subsets I mentioned above actively and/or tacitly discouraged.

I remember a few years ago at the Moonday reading at Village Books in Pacific Palisades when, after reading on the open-mike, Holaday Mason (a well-known L.A. literary poet) performed her five minutes. The late Anne Silver (then a Moonday co-host) spent a minute or two copiously praising Holaday for her work--and, to me, the message was ultraclear; I was too depth-free and craft-poor for such a distinguished reading. I got Ms. Silver's message--and never returned to the reading again.

Time to say it again: for poetry to flourish--particularly at a time when there will be renewed jeers over the idea of the arts being essential in a near-Depression economy--a big tent needs to be pitched.

It's not to be expected that all poetry will be to the liking of everyone--tastemakers, professional/amateur poets or civilians who prefer merely to attend.

But at some point the "poetry community" needs to stop pushing the poetry-eugenics nonsense that poems should be nothing more than gilded creations engineered to be admired for their complexity and intricacy--sort of like building a scale model of the QUEEN MARY in a Sparkletts jug or (to steal a phrase from the late Robert Mitchum) construct a replica of the Taj Mahal from matchsticks.

Otherwise, there's going to be an increase in boring, arid, intended-more-to-impress-than-enlighten-or-even-stoop-to-entertain "craft-conscious" word art which will likely go unremembered a month from now--let alone a decade or even a century.

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