Monday, March 23, 2009

I've been thinking a lot, lately, about violence: violent acts, violent imagery, both physical and mental violence, as well as the point where frivolous playfulness turns to regrettable violence, those times when games end because someone is bleeding, on fire, or both. Violent images and circumstances are becoming more and more prevalent in poetry, at least in the sense of being only a part of where the poem happens and not the explicit happening in the poem...which seems very reflective of our world. I know for me personally, this has taken the shape of all the horrific things I see just walking to and from work here in the south side of Chicago; at least they used to seem horrific before they became routine. All the homeless in the park and the very public manner they perform what we consider to be private acts. Gun shots. People screaming at no one in particular. Aggressive police officers. Etc. Etc.
Anyway, what I guess I'm getting at is that I've noticed that these things are becoming the backdrop for my poems...that my usual themes are still intact, but that where once these themes played out in very natural and serene settings, now they take place in very dense spaces made up of this violence. The only problem with this, that I only recently discovered, is that I'm still trying to figure out how to negotiate these spaces. How to not lose voice inside them. How to not be as overwhelmed by them in my poems as I am in real life...or at least how to express that overwhelmed-ness in an artful and interesting way.
Now, I'm not going to pretend that I am alone in this, or even the first to address it, as I've read really good poems that manage to embody these ideas without being manipulated by them, i.e., Mathias Svalina's, "Play" poems, or the new Aase Berg collection, "With Deer" from Black Ocean. The problem with me though, is that soon I'll be moving back to Iowa where these daily horrors will once again become horrific and outside of the daily fabric, and therefore, outside the scope of my poems.

I think I'm going to write as much as I can everyday between now and June.

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