Last night at the second of Emily XYZ’s workshops, we looked at our place on the cultural continuum, spoke about the artists/art/objects/places etc.. that have influenced us and then read a poem that demonstrated how we have taken those influences and shaped them into our own, original voice.
I read chapter 4 of Desolation Angels, a piece of writing that sings after countless reads; that still has the power to mesmerise, to light up my senses. Desolation Angels found me at a strange time of life, struggling with my own persoanl loneliness, so I was there on the Lookout with Jack, trying to find the truth in this world, just as he was. I then read the poem, January 29, 2009 (for John Martyn) to show how Kerouac’s spiritual connection with the land and ability to illuminate the ‘everydayness’ of living has greatly influenced my own work.
Emily talked often throughout the night about the importance of finding your tribe; to know that you are not alone and that there is a precedent for what you are trying to do. She also spoke about how poems come to us and that sometimed we are vessels, a landing place for poems. This really lit me up, as January 29, 2009 is the perfect example of a poem that landed on me. The appearance of the swallow coinciding with the news of John Martyn’s death wrote the poem, much more than I wrote the poem. For me, it was a matter of putting the words in the right order… the poem had as Emily said, landed on me.
This reminded me of the quote by Muriel Rukeyser:
“You only need be a scarecrow for poems to land on.”
and lead to this great article ‘The Poet is a Scarecrow’ by Melissa Broder. What struck me most about this article was Broder’s exploration of Barbara Guest’s theory that the poem is an active force exercising human imagination; is an entity capable of feelings. In Guest’s world, ‘a poem seeks out a certain type of artist; an artist who possesses the qualities of subjectivity or openness.’
I totally recommend reading this article… it certainly spoke to me. These workshops are proving to be the highlight of my week and are opening both me and my writing up to new trains of thought.