|The Function of the Poetic Artist
You can't treat people too gently. You can only push further what was already there. That's what an artist does, merely a response to the boredom and mediocrity of everyday life, or an attempt to capture and communicate to others that incredible moment, profound or not, a black and white carving of an emotion, a thought, an understanding. The constant attempt at expression, being understood, and wanting to understand some one else, this is poetry, this is art. There's an undeniable beauty to the person who isn't afraid - who refuses to be held back, willing to put themselves out there, in front of the firing line, the person willing to push themselves and the world around them to excess - to the limits. Over the proverbial edge, knowing there is no back, only forward from wherever their strange journey may take them. This is where art, poetry, film and music should all live. This is where we find those who are willing to brave the inner crevices and folds of the human machine, so everyone else can be safe in their homes, continuing to believe that they are "normal", are not capable of these insane visions, acts and realities. Even if they live comfortably, they know something is missing. They seek the work of others to indulge in these desires. This is in part why we put on a CD, pop in a movie, go to museums. Art makes us feel, while the competitive corporate world around us continues to foster hate, greed, inspiring numbness and indifference, the sad feeling that reality is hopeless. Entertainment is art's lowest function, though still an important one, but at its greatest, most magnificent capacity, art can inspire, free, anger or express what we normally feel we can not. There is no limit to expression. This is why it is so wonderful, what draws so many people to it in the first place. We will only be truly doomed when we give up on art, once we stop the forum of free expression, limit what can be expressed. Humanity desperately needs art to stay human. We need it to remind us that despite what is happening in the world, artists, of all kinds, are those who are willing to sacrifice the comforts of security and sanity in order to bring to light something most people will not actively seek out; the reality of humanity, our beauties and our horrors.
Truth, or rather, the perception of reality in art can work perfectly, but it's still a representation once on the page. Artistic license, exaggeration and fictionalization are our tools. Tolstoy said, "Art is a lie that enables us to tell the truth." The truth can be what breaks people in the first place, but this is why it can be what saves us as well. If you prefer the freedom in ignorance, than you deserve what ever you get in the end. Ignorance, emotional and intellectual, is a rabid, over powering beast that jumps you in the comforts of your own home and eats you alive, and you don't even feel it. You don't even realize you're missing a leg.
Poetry is our weapon, a defense against closed eyes. It's not an easy gig, true, but if your words speak to anyone, any one person who comes across the piece - picking up a zine off a friend's coffee table, web browsing, or better yet, as a result of your reading it in public, using every word to convey exactly how it makes you feel, leaving the participant listener disabled for the time being, and it Makes Them Feel something, Remember something or best of all, gets them Thinking about something completely new- they don't have to like it, maybe it hurts like hell, and that's exactly why they've been avoiding it for so long, but you came out and was there to share it with them. This is the fundamental concept. Poetry is our tool in reaching out to others, or at the very least, this is what we do to figure out ourselves.
I don't believe soft poetry has a place in modern society anymore. We are beyond its reach for the time being, and though this is regarded as a sad fact, it's true. People can't tolerate it anymore - poetry must evolve with us, it must speak of relevance. Soft poetry does nothing for our times. It ignores our reality. It denies our truths. It honestly insults those of us who don't want to ignore the times we live in, those of us getting off our asses, and doing something. I believe once enough people have seen, have tasted, have been personally affected, offended and changed by these outrages of modern poetry, we will have enough angry people to begin accomplishing something.
By "soft poetry" I am referring of course to any poems concerning the beauty of nature, nostalgia, how cute your cat is, or sentimental mushy love shit. Yes, I too am guilty of these things, and you know you are. And you know there is simply too much crappy writing around all ready to indulge in such whoredom of the written word. All I ask is that we stop indulging time wasted. I saw your cat, and yeah, he's cute, but don't write a fucking poem about it, for fuck's sake. If you're desperate to have your cat in there, just have him puking in the background, but that's it.
We're too jaded, too wasted, and too desensitized for this type of poetry to speak to us any longer. Please, please, this is not the 19th century, not even the 20th. I don't care about how beautiful your backyard is, with the Japanese fountain, or how another person is capable of "saving you". Do it yourself, explore those painful, horrific shadows necessary for discovering the good, and write a poem about it. We, as a whole, need a slap to the face, and anyone who's ever written like those examples past the age of 15, a punch to the gut or at least a good hosing down. The only way to speak to an audience of angry, disappointed, possibly numb with booze or coffee, disenchanted, exhausted-from-their-two-jobs individuals who truly want to hear something new, something better, something inspiring, is to violate them. Take their attention by force. You will be unable to capture the minds of people, get your point across, unless you use your words like projectile missiles. You can't ignore an immediate threat. You can't hide from the truth once it's drooling in your face, its hot rancid breathe invading your nostrils. We can still expose the world as a gorgeous thing if we can only break through this ugliness. We can still pull the beauty from the tragic. But in order to do that, you must explore the tragic. That's why we are here. I'm not saying give up. I'm saying you can find what you're looking for if you look in the right places. The true places. The present places. What I'm seeing too often is everyone trying to write like someone who died a long time ago. Fuck that. Sure, get inspiration from an inspiring author, but Read Intelligently. No regurgitation please. If I've already heard or read it, I sure as hell am not going to waste my time sitting through it again. I will not be polite. I will go outside, and smoke a cigarette. This is why we need the artist, the ones willing to go into the unknown, the unexplored. Willing to go from where they may never come back. These are the risks. If you don't want to risk yourself for your art, stay home and watch fucking television. We don't want you here.
These are my personal goals, and hopes for the future of poetry. If you don't agree with me, write something that might change my mind. We have the possibilities of the written word at our disposal. Language is our basic, yet most eloquent means for communication. It's as fluid as it is tangible. It can be carved out for good, for bad, or for expressing that ultimate human experience, a place that confuses the two.
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