More than poetry in motion

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David Marx
Campus News. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Edwin Starr once sang:  “War – What is it good for?  Absolutely nothing.’’  In this day and rather unfortunate age of downloadable passion, pizza and porn, might the same just as readily apply to poetry?  Do the likes of Shelley, Byron, Keats, Rimbaud, Eliot, Thomas, Plath, et al, still resonate amid the daily contours of today’s hip-hop induced society?. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Unlike the current hip and glib and surely unsustainable perusal of high-octane media studies — wherein the young and the (preferably) beautiful embark upon such solipsistic career paths as self-absorption ad celebrity infinitum — were poetry to be a tad more pronounced, a tiny modicum of melioristic thought, might, somewhere along the line, be allowed to prevail.  As is, the circus of life continues to run amok amid the rather hazardous slipstream of pain, pathos, and the pre-ordained complexity of denial.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
So yeah, poetry, what is it good for?. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
This is surely dependant upon who’s reading, who’s listening and who’s ignoring.  Reason being, the quintessential essence of poetry lies within the realm of those truly in need of some detonative tenderness and enlightenment.  Those who want to be touched, want to be reached, want to be healed, want to be brought to bear upon the sacrosanct idea of something other, will always find that poetry resonates like nothing else.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
As for many, there is nothing else.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
‘’When you got nothing/You got nothing to lose.’’ Bob Dylan. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Like painting, and to a certain degree, philosophy, poetry is one of the few mediums wherein the currency of regulation is without value.  Anything goes.  Anything is permitted — which in and of itself, is freedom funky a go-go bro.  Anything that is, except for the duplicitous repetition of vacuity.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Indeed, the potential of poetry’s virginal canvas is as provocative as the whole wide world itself — a world wherein entire platoons of literary oysters are to be caught and revered and devoured and pondered upon, beyond resolution.  Yet even here, within the wide, open cathedral of contemplation, there may still be room for more.  More vision.  More irregularity.  More sparkle.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
More often than not, smug-fucks — with everything to prove and everything to lose should their credit rating wane beneath that of their peers – are utterly oblivious to the validity of poetry.  The thought of reading some hippy-dippy, fag-perplexing, psycho-homo, commie-shite, usually has Mr. Expanding Waistline, running for the hills with a revolver and an accountant.  Not for he, any existentialist horseshit of the flim-flam persuasion — all hearts and butterflies and subliminal Norwegian erections on a platter to go, all sunny-side up and making no sense whatsoever.  No sir.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
He is after all, invariably blessed with a myopic sense of being that is signed, sealed, delivered and what’s more: safe.  And as we all know, safe, like the color beige and Barry Manilow, is fundamentally transient, linear, boring and ultimately unfulfilling.  That said, the moment something goes wrong, everything changes.  Everything.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
As pain is always pain.
Regardless of constitution.
Substitution.
God.
Truth.
Bank account.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
To be sure, when pain rears its ugly head, poetry essentially evolves unto its own. The moment a partner runs off with someone else, a daughter is diagnosed with leukemia, a sister is run over and killed by a drunk driver, an only son is blown to pieces amid the killing fields of Afghanistan; is the moment one reaches out for the aforementioned other.. . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
“Aristotle argued that fiction — by which he meant all forms of poetry, including tragedy – was superior to history, which merely described events, because it had the power to order them in abstract ways and thereby convey deeper truths […].  Nietzsche went a step further and insisted that art and music spoke a truth that went beyond words and had the potential to free people from the tyranny of logic.’’. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The trajectory of language, for all its icosahedral and infinite quiddity of a kinematical persuasion, is one thing.  The sanctity of the poetry, for all its complicit and comprehensive understanding of the human condition, is quite another.  So while the grief stricken may initially reach for the bottle or the Bible, it’s only the non-formulaic, poignant reaching out for hope, which truly, truly matters.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
And where better to start than with words on paper?. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
There is after all, a reason why the War Poets were so revered during the First World War.  With shells raining down amid the misery of the trenches, and with certain death perhaps moments away, there was no other solace except for that of the intrinsic immediacy of a poem.  And have we learnt anything?  Have we (still not) learnt the fundamental difference between futility and the flag?. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
It’s nights like this I ask myself,
what is a flag?  A fluttering
symbol of a nation’s amplified
psychosis.  A blood-drenched rag
dipped at the passing catafalque.
A hankerchief to wave at the
soldiers marching off to war,
marching against human failure.
Run it up the pole and see who
salutes it.  Use it for swaddling,
a bandage after an accident, to
mop the feverish brow of one
unwell.  A thing to dry your hands
on after throwing in the towel.
“Flag” by Bruce McRae. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
By way of forensic contemplation and analysis, let it be said that it’s surely poetry and poetry only, which helps society come to terms with the decrepit virtue of social greed and misapprehension.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
It’s just such a mighty shame that poetry, unlike algebra and psychology, physics and media studies, is no longer taken seriously within the curriculum of learning.  For as logical as these subjects may be, only poetry can save us from both ourselves and the hurt of another.

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