Saturday, January 23, 2016

Trends and Titles, Pictures and Poems

The visual pieces here or asemic writing, for that is what we see a lot of lately, is tending toward color and multi-dimensional effect. Gone are the days where the visual poem sought simply to make a point. Past are the more recent days when asemic poetry yearned for a place at the table of contemporary art. The visual poem and its proponents are situated and now flow in and out of conversation, almost unconscious of not belonging.

What art is once it has arrived may not seem as compelling as how it got there, but only to the mere spectator. I don't know that anyone these days is happy to spectate, merely, or believe that such a thing is possible. Get closer to the thing on the wall, the pile of stones in the field, the screen before your nose, and you will know that art is as it comes into being, whatever trajectory is perceived by the so-called public eye.

My impression of the present generation of visual artists is that they are a hell of a lot more interesting than any previous generation. Certainly, they appear kinder and gentler. They are a landscape crowd. They take their time in offering, as opportunity allows, the kind of thing one might happen upon in a walk, or on a vacation, circumstances depending, but here it is in your living room, artfully so.

Art is better, because artists are better as people. They communicate more. They have to, and because of that, they do; and then they make things out of that communication, or use it. That is what an artist does. And once they do this, they go back for more because it works. People who communicate are generally better than people who do not. We have tired of the raging individualist. Oh, the archetype will not and should not disappear, but it seems to me to have been more properly positioned in the artistic consciousness of late.

As I look through the images, asemic and pure-visual, that have been posted on this page, I sense that intelligent, thoughtful people are at work. They are determined to create, refine, and publish the art that they want to see in the world, and that is good enough. I see permutation, growth, sensitivity. I do not see dogma, didacticism, or grave-digging.

I speak to visual arts, not poetry per se. The poetry world continues enmeshed in narrowness and weak tragedies, in silo-building. With some notably exceptional individuals who keep their borders open, the reader of current poetry is bound to feel like they have made a political choice as they read. The reader of today is a paper soldier, and the poet a cultural troll, hacking away at one thing, promoting another, and in their spare moments decrying what they perceive as contrary formations.

It is no coincidence that many asemic art composers once wrote verse, then, appalled by the atmosphere, abandoned ship. Wise, wise, wise. I generally write poems, and when this group began filling up with images rather than words, I wondered what was happening. I had already grown out of trying to think like a poet though. I was engaged with what was before my eyes in terms shared with the artist, not exclusive to myself. But it is a challenge to grow in writing in these times. to write and share responsibly.

We should not be to surprised if one day asemic writing were to show poetry and poets the way forward, on its own terms. Or do I dream?

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Bad Books, or Words Anew

Let's start out by allowing that we wrote a very, very, very bad book. I collected what I had done for months and put it out on Lulu, and even before the proof showed up I knew I would kill it, deleting the book, burying it.

I am thinking about my creative work with absolute dread. I appear to have hit some kind of weird vortex of stupid - no imagination or spark or desire, at all. I blame Church. Ha! Well, Church is a factor in my life of which, purportedly, poetry is a part.

But how to write a poem when every week or two you stand in front of the Tabernacle and read to the congregation prophecies of the Old Testament, and Letters of the New? What am I supposed to write? It's not like I spend my time with the New Yorker or even Charles Olsen. The Apostle Paul! What can I add, or do, when I live day to day, hour by hour, in love with the word of God?

Well, the answer is that you write terrible poems for a while, and you publish them and regret it. Then, you somehow feel fine anyway and think, Let's just write and see what happens, and so you are free in a way that maybe would not have occurred otherwise, if you had not written such dreck.

Dreck. I love that word. I love failing then waking up to a narrative. Well, we'll see. Or I'll see. Cats. Tangerines. Bandoleers. Also, I am getting older. Is it obvious?

Thanks for reading.