From an E-mail to a Friend Today

Poetry and song lyrics are ways of getting to emotions more than prose which is concerned more with ideas even when it’s talking about feelings.

Personally, I found song lyrics easier to write than poetry per se. The rhyme goes with the territory, so as long as you keep landing on the next end-line rhyme you’ll be ok. But most song lyrics have to do with feelings and relationships except if you’re ’60s Dylan. Contemporary song lyrics are good for expressing discombobulation; Paul Simon’s last 4 albums flow in that direction successfully, subtly, and deeply.

I had played instinctively with poetry in university (there are some good, memorable lines only) and then left it alone till I was doing books with Glen in the early ’80s. Well, he was quite the teacher (as you recall) and he, unexpectedly taught me how to write free verse via a workshop he did for Glenn Martin. That totally demystified free verse at a time when pattern-thinking had become second nature in my editing, writing, and teaching. And the more you write, the better you get at it, as much as: the more you read and notice, the more your sensibility expands, and your writing then changes and grows.

Since December’s publication, I have fallen silent; there isn’t much that I feel inclined to poeticize at this point. The prose of the blog is more naturally akin to my mind and thinking these daze. I’m more interested in ideas and patterns all over again. It wouldn’t surprise me if I didn’t write another poem ever.

That said, I, like you, come from a different time of different views about poetry. The latter include everybody from Shakespeare to Keats to Dickinson to Whitman to Yeats to Eliot to Frost to Dylan and Cohen. With Dylan getting the Nobel and Cohen passing, I feel that old era is really gone for the majority of poetry fans. But I sure am glad that my understandings and appreciations of poetry run as deep as they do; they reflect a lifelong interest in language and its possibilities in shorter forms/genres.

Of fiction, I will say that most of our lives are fiction or fictional, largely imagined, given the nature of daily dreaming, fantasy, and imagining. It has its place and can be very moving and provides narratives to steer our lives and values by. Nonfiction in terms of true stories is often interesting. I’ve enjoyed Kon-Tiki, Poitier’s life story, etc. It helps you to know these people and experiences better. But most of nf I read is either criticism, commentary, or journalism. The world of ideas which help focus one as one tries to make sense of the modern world.

Of late, ‘real (physical) life’ and spiritual process call more, dealing with what’s on in a given day more within the spheres of home, family, Nature, music, viewing, and whatever projects engage/arise. But although I’ve downsized my book collection, I have not let go of the best of the best. Those will be forever touchstones and connections with The Important as long as I can engage with those material reservoirs of greatness, uniqueness, and approaches that are core and vitally necessary.


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