Sunday, November 23, 2014

No One Understands A Thing I Say

And it is because I'm a poet. I've tried to give up writing poetry. Really tried hard. However, even with its serious and archaic nature, its reputation for obscurity, its saturation in academic snootiness, its status as unwanted stepchild of the arts, and the continual threat of extinction, I find arranging words helps me take the experiences of my life and make sense of it all. We are biological organisms designed to process our experiences through thoughts and feelings. We do this in dreams states, in dance states, through music and song and through words and poems. I can't seem to do this as well in another genre of writing or in making other forms of art. So I'm stuck with poetry, always feeling around at the edges for possibilities.

Many contemporary poets argue the value of poetry to be in its ability to be a linguistic bridge between the numinous and our daily grind. It's an art form that speaks to us through cultural, universal or archetypal images and we are transported into connection with something larger than ourselves. Poet Denise Levertov states, “People turn to poems (if they are aware poetry exists) for some kind of illumination, for revelations that help them to survive, to survive in spirit not only in body. These revelations are usually not of the unheard-of but of what lies around us unseen or forgotten. Or they illuminate what we feel but don’t know we feel until it is articulated.”

I've been deeply influenced by this idea of illumination through the written or spoken word. I have spent a lot of time exacting the art of finding words to describe transcendent experiences that are deeply personal into words that others can understand and perhaps relate with. I'll always value the feeling of satisfaction when a reader states a poem has moved them deeply. It feels like a full circle that starts with the impulse to express and ends with a shared experience that has moved both writer and reader into a kind of sacred, uplifted realm. 

AND, I'm currently interested in finding something original in my own writing and shaking free of the lexicon that has carried me this far in the process of making art out of my life. I'm interested in finding out what happens if the words I use to describe my experience only make sense to me because no effort has been taken to render them available to others. It's an experiment in verbal abstraction and a journey into postmodern subjectivity. 

We are living in a social networking world where we have become accustomed to sharing deeply personal information via words, images, videos, etc as a way to "connect" with others. It's become as much a part of our day as eating or working. I'm curious about poems as a sort of meta-aware "selfie" not so much to be narcissistic or to objectify the self further, but more of an exercise in mindful awareness that is free to wander internally and externally without a commitment to get anywhere. The impetus is to capture one's own personal experience in a moment. OK, maybe a few "filters" aka edits and crafting are still being used, but it is without a need to explain, deliver or illuminate anything more than a shot of the self, as it this moment, fully subjective and without apology. 


no teeth to hold
the tongue in
flop out rain chaser
wet streets unknown appliance sound
quivers her letters irregular
prescriptions are waiting
chase the hours spent sounding
irregular vowels the Os

he puts down tracks
gadgetry finish the coffee
reheat & reheat
a bigger book means mind in the margins
wander the rumble under the refrigerator
the food gone
an arrow made of engine poking the rain
& wet tongue

-Renee Podunovich, 2014