Tuesday, November 25, 2003

English 911, Poetry Workshop

This course is designed to introduce you to one of the most ignored and bewildering art forms there is out there. It is not for people with heart conditions or for people with "their own ideas about things." A lot will be expected of you because poetry writing demands our most self-serious exertions. The body is preparing itself for either flight or fight. Poetry should make your testicles light up like a jack-o-lantern.

Poetry is an indigestible form of word arrangement and cannot function as a source of fuel. Poetry helps to prevent constipation and gives a feeling of fullness, but too much poetry can reduce the uptake of vitamins and actually increase constipation if prose consumption is not increased at the same time.

Why is the need for poetry wired into our mammalian brains, like the need for jobs you can't be fired from, Quaaludes and cheap wine? Why do other mammals often write better than humans do? Since humans have been speaking, writing, and torturing each other with poetry since William Shakespeare started it all, what's the reason? What is it about poetry?

The weave of poetry is perfect. It is perfectly and harmoniously balanced. Poetry is The Law. It flows through everything that is in existence, every stone, every plant, every animal, every being every man. How can we hope to write poetry well when we haven't read any in twenty years? By giving people what they expect, that's how.

I've learned that you cannot make someone love your poetry. All you can do is be a poet who can be loved. The rest is on them. Poets are encouraged to purchase merchandise featuring their poetry. For me, poetry is not self expression, though it may be spelt regression. Poetry harvests the fact of it's own banality. It is spectacularly and excruciatingly inept, which doesn't mean it isn't famous, though it isn't, and in order to know anything about it you'll have to learn about your own powerlessness and dismay, the language of The Masai warriors and Native Indians, successful slave revolts, new ways of approaching dialectical materialism, how to instigate a nation-wide general strike, the way mountains collect social security, and how to survive in the wilderness with only a collection of Jonas Mekas movies and an obscene deck of cards.

Whatever poets see they unconsciously imitate. It comes from somewhere, perhaps sailboats or desk lamps or genuflecting to Gloria Steinem, and is a gift from our lord, God and all these great chemical substances that we've taken over the years.

The best way to write poetry is to write like you've never been hurt. Middle-aged people with an increasing distance from social reality would be mad at you if you completely ignored them. Don't take this course if you're not ready to believe that poetry is in serious trouble. True-hearted poets, even in the humblest station in life, who are energetic doers, may give an impulse to good works out of all proportion, apparently, to their actual station in society. This is especially good news for the poets' landlords and bosses.

Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful fears. The thing that distinguishes poetry from other segments is that there is no room for error. In large poetry application deployment there is usually a small army of poetic people and consultants available to help smooth out the bumps. Auden wrote, for example, that "poetry makes nothing happen: let's keep it that way." In the small poetry segment, poets tend to rely on words that cost relatively little, so the poetic payroll is not at stake.

To me, the most alarming thing about poetry is that there is a lot to choose from. Poetry's status economy depends on a knowledge-gap. Try relying on resellers you trust to find poems that are easy to install, use and, most importantly, maintain.

Poetry is the power of deflating the indefinable in terms of the unforgivable. There will be channeled readings on poetics as well as sessions in which student poetry will be summarily dismissed. Grades will be based on quality of the work, disingenuousness, commitment to Christianity, generosity of spirit, and articulation of a poetics to ride in on.

Saturday, November 08, 2003

Tom Brokaw

My Dad was a proud Paratrooper. He loved being Phillipines news. An LA Teen asked help to ID a priest she says fathered her. My Dad Was a Boxer. We succeeded. My dad was a connoisseur of classical music. It was incredibly important to him. His best man was a black belt in Judo. He believed in the Judo way. He turned around, and the boys in that car hastily apologized. Did I mention that my dad was a big guy? My Dad was big. My Dad was a big union guy, back in Cape Breton in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s. He worked for such a special man. He was everything (and more) that a Christian should be. He devoted his life to Jesus and did it with pleasure. My Dad was a big man by build and had a big heart with so much love in it and in return he was loved by everyone in a coup. Of course, according to Idi Amin Dada, my Dad was a threat being a well educated Protestant from Buganda. To cut the truck driver for a local rendering business. I was an only child and my dad spoiled me terribly! On the left is a picture of his plane, it's a Spitfire. Some pilots named their planes e.g. THE OLDEST LIVING ALTAR BOY IN THE HISTORY OF "LITTLE FLOWER." I think my dad was a card shark before he became a preacher!!~lol!~ When we left that evening it was hard to believe dad was a child during The Depression in the 1930s. As you know, commodities were scarce in those days. My dad was a very good tradesman of the old school, and some of the things these old-time mechanics could do with a chisel, file and hand scrapers is almost mutli-talented in so many ways. My Dad was a huge success on the Donna Reed Show. He went to college at La Salle University in the Philippines. I was told my dad was a ladies man. He dated many girls. An iron gate. Very creepy looking. Because hindsight is clearer then my eyesight, I must be thankful that my Dad was a dead beat Dad. For had a typical pragmatic solution lived on a somewhat busy mighty Manchester United, the man who did all he could for his children would have convinced my brother that my dad was a monster. My dad never did anything to hurt anyone. My dad moved out. It's him. His laugh. His love. My Dad was a great wordsmith, but he was a greater selfish colleague. He was one of the best, our hero. Someone we loved and looked up to. My dad was a hard working man. It's all I ever knew. My Dad was a weekend Dad. He would take my older sister and me to "Buckeye Division." No radio, no heat, no interior lights. This is ridiculous. My Mom was an Australian Cattle Dog also known as a Blue Heeler. My Dad was a "rolling stone" and all we know about him was that he was very big.