Democratic poetry, with a Response by Bruce Holsapple

“First thought best thought. ”   Allen Ginsberg

First draft First writing
.
Free poetry.
Speech poetry.
Spoken poetry.

Seed sentence
Seed line

The seed line feeds line by line
the plant poem
does it flower?

A poem is more an annual
than a perennial.

Every time you plant/read it
it grows & by the time you’ve finished
it flowers and is
remembered as such in
it’s totality grown from
seeds
_________________________________________________________

The muse is a syntactical slot machine.

The angel is a messenger, an imagined guardian.

The duende is earth reality, the fire of unknown places,
the blood of ancestors, the ritual of life, the flowing essence
of earth survival, the heartbeat of the actual poets.

_____________________________________________________

Moon
boon
to this
room.

Poetry is speech song.

syntactical ambiguity (links the pauses with the meanings)

Poetry can be understood
only when it stretches your expectations.

Poetry is obscure when it
violates your expectations by divorcing itself from daily living.

Public poetry & academic poetry.

Why does the mind have to be stretched?

Because of the immensity of the universe (and we all tend
to fall back into our small selves).
Poetry is the best defense against petty smallness,
narrow mindedness, tunnel vision & cult worship.

Democratic poetry absorbs, adopts,
kind of like Hinduism where Christ is the 7th reincarnation
of Vishnu, kind of like Pueblo Indian elders
whose chanting chorus can include someone
dressed up like Aunt Jemima.

Academic means studied, written & seen by the
fewest possible people, where the power of the elite is
best subsidized & exercised.
There there is little or no accounting for taste.

                                   invites

Criticism simply           a superiority complex.

                                     incites

_______________________________________________________

Mozart is sanity.
Mozart is sanity.
Mozart is the reality of what can be
manifested in what is.
Mozart wipes away from the time being
all that is not refreshing.

_______________________________________/28Mar94

The difference between poetry read aloud (or
memorized, recited as they
used to say) & poetry read silently in a book
is that the combination of eyes & ears
invites more criticism of the poem
since books seen & read from increasingly
extend from more academic, schoolish, class-oriented
analysis & critical discussion.

While having a poem read to you savors more
the sound & music of words & lines,
and evokes some of the innocence of
rhymes & stories mothers and fathers first
read their babies & kids

The reader’s voice is a musical instrument
which brings to life
the musical score of the poem.
But since everything is words, the lines &
sentences & stanzas are begging for meaning
in relation to the background of the poem,
the frame of the poem, the given context of the poem:

the audience & everybody’s everyday speech
which uses meaning & connection in every
twist & turn of its patterns & uses
communication between people.

Like jazz, not improvise while
creating a poem but improvise to
no known ballad, turn or song or riff ——
improvise from the beginning line, continuing,
going along
while looking back over
what you’ve said
till you come to what seems to be
the end of your speech song.

________________________________________________

______Improvise is “not to foresee.”____________________

______To risk is to improvise._________________________

Performing a poem is reading a poem aloud so
someone else can hear it.

You can slightly exaggerate the words, perhaps
enunciate clearly, without tending toward the
dramatic. The scale ranges from a Philip Whalen
or Gertrude Stein approach of a natural speech
to a WB Yeats, Dylan Thomas, Vachel Lindsey, Sonia Sanchez approach.

“Experimental” poet: I was introduced as.

To experiment is to try different things with
goal in mind until, luckily, one thing or
approach works & you succeed.

Or.

You don’t succeed & you try something else
or give up & try a bunch of things with
a different aim in mind.

(Experimental: Stephen Crane “experimental free verse,” e.e.cummings, Stéphane Mallarmé, WCW, Black Mountain Poets, etc.)

Maybe an experimental poet trounces more forms than other poets. Or rather, “an experimental poet” risks more more often, perhaps. I don’t think of myself as an experimental poet. I just don’t like cliches unless I’m playing with them, making a point of it or them. I search for freshness, expunging the expected at every turn. So does that make me experimental: isn’t that what every poet does to a greater or lesser extent?

/larry goodell / from tail end of Outerspace Workout, poems of 1994

A Response from Bruce Holsapple

Hi Larry

Thanks for sending your “essay” on poetry. My own take is similar to yours, namely that poetry has become more & more academic over the last 25 years, almost in some cycle, because it was academic in the 40s & 50s also. I wonder to what extent underlying cultural politics are responsible for that swing? I especially liked this section:

But since everything is words, the lines &
sentences & stanzas are begging for meaning
in relation to the background of the poem,
the frame of the poem, the given context of the poem:

the audience & everybody’s everyday speech
which uses meaning & connection in every
twist & turn of its patterns & uses
communication between people.

I also see the act of speech as foundation or central context of a poem, not exclusively, but importantly, so that the dynamic between speaker & listener is ce ntral to poems. I think you’re right that this relation provides meaningful context, that one reads “thru” that relation as they read the poem, the poem layered as it were by its contexts. I suspect one can tell, even, when a poem has a classroom as one of it’s contexts. That’s part of what Williams objected to with Eliot’s The Waste Land.
. . .
Four new Vox CDs in the works.http://theshop.free-jazz.net/vox-audio/shop/audio-poetry/

My best,
Bruce Holsapple
Magdalena, NM

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About larry goodell

Poet exploring his viable extensions - publisher, performer, playwright - hand to hand help in creating spaces for poetry to be live in - reading events, recordings, online and tangible publications in the vocal spirit of his New Mexico.
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