Wednesday, October 18, 2006
I'm Talking About Love
In most of the songs I love, the lyrics somehow illustrate an agitation or itch so deep, that one must scream---or chant rhythmically, at least---to work it out. Shake it out like a bad dream. Bury it with some bass or something. Think Primus. Often there is a guitar involved, like the year Nirvana's Nevermind came out---I was in college and the songs were everywhere, at every party, practically in every car. Or, there was the socially conscious hip-hop like A Tribe Called Quest, De la Soul, or Public Enemy talking about a similar revolution that John Lennon or a poet like Martin Espada might have called us to form. Then there's someone like Ian MacKaye or Zack de la Rocha, people whose albums I would buy every year if they put one out every year. And I like this new group I found called Beauty Pill. And Ben Harper. Yeah. Ben Harper.
And so I am drawn to poetry with a similar dissonance or grit. I want beauty and grit wrapped up nicely together, you know? Call it a sensibility if you want. Something like Philip Levine or Andres Montoya. Do we not prize those writers whose words (re) shape our vision? Don't poets like Myung Mi Kim, Ko Un, and Pablo Neruda do this? Yes. Good poets do this, I think. Yes, there is the music, the line, the form and the play. There is the sound. There is the scope and the economy, yes. But does the poem do anything besides display its own skill? Does the poem have a purpose beyond the aesthetic? Perhaps the aesthetic is enough? Maybe beauty is everything? And what is the fascination with wit these days? Let us keep beauty---and at least, a deep sense of agitation and history.
For anyone reading this: do you have any new poetry book (or any other kind of book) recommendations? I'm looking to round out my Christmas wish-list.