Of Waking Life, Dreamland, Poetry, Transcendence, and John Lennon

You just never know, do you?

1. In waking life, anything is possible–so I’ve learned over and over again throughout life. For instance, the many of us who ever gave up hope that Trump would be impeached. But we all forgot how careless human beings are and how we often do it to ourselves, incriminating ourselves in the public eye.

2. In Dreamland nightly, anything is possible. John Lennon was alive and well, reading his poetry from A Spaniard in the Works, the book of quirky poems he penned back in the sixties, right here in Edmonton in a big tent. (Yes, Yoko was there also.) What impressed the audience was his reading of his popular “Our Dad” poem in an unexpected cockney accent. Again, anything is possible.

3. Where this poem came from was last evening and my hosting and reading at the Upper Crust Café. It was a beautiful transcendent evening with every poet having his or her ephemeral shining moment with language and many life experiences. Again, anything was possible.

4. Thoughts arising: Poetry is the art of the impossible. I have always been impressed by the effects/affects of artistically formed words on an audience. The power of the spoken word, too, when voice and delivery do justice to the words on the page. The mental and spiritual interplay between poet and reader/audience, too.

I have witnessed something akin to the movie Awakenings, in which people long dormant and devitalized, have returned to consciousness in response to art. I have repeatedly seen large and small groups moved , reawakened, and hugely pleasured by poets’ conscious choice of words writ down in the past and then recited in the present. A magical osmosis often involving emotional transport and transcendence, elevating an audience to the olde truly magical, transcendent possibilities of words, language, and poetry.

For more on this topic, I refer you to the only surviving audio transcript of Virginia Woolf (who was truly a poet and loved poetry and literature more than anything else) reading her essay on “Words” for the BBC which you can readily Google to listen to. Be prepared to be overwhelmed and moved to a higher understanding and appreciation of how words work, what they mean, and how they can change our lives and life experience. The audio speech per se is similarly transcendent to what I’ve talked of above and quite likely the greatest essay ever written about the most basic and essential building block of our lives, human experience, literature, and poetry. Enjoy!

(ps/ This speech is also found on The Bloomsbury Group CD set put out by the British Library and the BBC.)

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