Skip to main content

Emotion and Reason (with a little class)

I just finished cleaning out the cat litter (it's a mega cat litter box). Cleaning out the cat litter box is much different than doing the litter. Doing the litter is all about scooping. Cleaning out is all about getting your hands poopy (I guess you could wear gloves, but I don't like rubber gloves).

So after the cleaning out, I sat down and read Silliman's _Lit_ which I enjoyed a whole hell of a lot more after cleaning out the litter. (onto _Jones_ next. I only have two letters of the alphabet).

I mean doing something I don't like to do (or really want to do) helps me dig into things I do want (to do). teaching boring poetry (or reading boring poetry) makes me want to write interesting poetry. Not that the opposite isn't more true. A little of what I don't like/want to do goes a long way.

Today's carrot was _Lit_.
(not all carrots are equal)

For some reason I don't feel the lack of emotion so many of my instructors pegged as Langpo. I almost believed the "universal human values" bullshit line and rejected anything "the masses" would not understand. I come from a working class background (both of my parents did not finish high school) and often feel conflicted with my passion for knowledge. For a few years I tried to write poems I thought my family might halfway "get." I don't want to put on airs. Sometimes (or most of the time really) I feel very alienated from my relatives (not because I am a poor alienatied genius poet but because of my university education).

It just seems like when someone mentions the universal nature of such and such poetry it often means the message/meaning is reinforced by the dominant values of the culture. Not all dominant (or residual) values are worth their salt and I come to poetry for salt. For the great thaw.

I just received my issue of Fence magazine (spring/summer 2004) and Rebecca Wolff talks about how the Fence team responed after 9/11.

She writes, "And all I could think of to say was that I wanted more emotion in poetry. For crying out loud. Presuumably, that is all I've ever wanted."

I used to feel the same conflict, but now I don't understand. What is emotion? How do I put more of it into my poetry? How can I increase the chance of someone crying out loud after reading my poetry?

I feel a wide range of emotion after reading Rod Smith. I don't really feel sad though. Is that what poets mean when they say they want more emotion in poetry (sadness). Does emotion=sadness? How narrow.

I want a range of emotion (in life art etc.). I want a range of philosophy (thinking about thinking). It seems so narrow to define emotion as sadness.

Does Philip Levine write for working class people because he writes "about" the working class? I certainly do not usually enjoy reading poetry "about" teaching freshman composition.

If 100 people/poets read my books with intensity (I have no books yet, but maybe at some point) it seems much better than 30,000 non-poets who skim the work and call it good because I just won the Nobel prize.

But I would never want to be called a poet's poet. Please please not a poet's poet.


Popular posts from this blog

poets reading poets

There are on A now: Andrews, Antin, Apollinaire, Ashbery

A project from the Atlanta Poetry Group. Check it:

The Poetry of Tao Lin