Sunday, July 28, 2013

Rockstar In Disguise

About 3 weeks ago I took part in a reading at the Friday Night Free For All event for AllWriters' Workplace and Workshop writing studio. The event is centered around exposing some of the students' writing. It is also an attempt to entice the public in to show what the studio is all about. The event features each of the genres including poetry, short story (fiction), memoir, and novel (excerpt, obviously). There is usually a guest reader too, of some distinction. This past one featured Mary Jo Balistreri, who has published a book of poems.

At this particular reading I was asked to read some of my poetry. I was flattered to be asked and also pretty excited, because poetry is the "fun" side of my writing. I mean, it's all fun, memoir, fiction, and poetry, but poetry lets me break a few of the rules of writing. It doesn't have to have perfect punctuation a long, drawn out story line, and paragraphs worth of character development. At the same time, good poetry will have these last two elements in much shorter, smaller bite-sized chunks. In essence, some good poems (and I say some, because not all need to adhere to this rule) will read like a really good, really short story. Like some sort of super-flash fiction (or memoir).

So anyway, while I was flattered, I also approached it with a bit of humility. To be asked to read poetry, means in some ways that I am a poet, a label I have a hard time with. For me it's a bit like Michael Perry who has written about having trouble telling his EMT, hunting and farming friends that he spends a fair amount of his time at poetry and book readings, schmoozing among literary types or looking for metaphors in his day to day life. This is me. I have a hard time owning up to being a published poet; to admitting that I like it, read it and enjoy it when it's done well.

Ya see, it's a guy thing. Not to mention that I like to keep a low profile most of the time anyway. I tell my friends that poetry is my dirty little secret.

I have to believe that most people don't read a lot of poetry. Many have the pre-conceived notion that all poems, A. Must Rhyme. B. Must be proportionally stanza'd or perfectly rhythmic. or C. That it must include flowers, clouds, skies, puppies or rainbows.

None of these rules are true of course. Most of my stuff is fairly concrete. Some of it is rhythmic and ryhmey, but by far that is the exception. In fact during my reading I read ten poems, outlining 5 different writing styles I employed for my poems.

1. Poems using humor (Especially with a good punchline.)
2. Love poems
3. Poems about life. (My son, and our house.)
4. Getting inside the mind of the poet.
5. Messing around with format

The kicker in the whole deal was that people really seemed to like my work. I had more than a few come up afterwards and say how they don't usually like poetry, but that they really enjoyed mine. This is great to hear, believe me. It's all we writer's have to go on. It's why we do what we do. It also serves to legitimize my standing as a poet, I guess.

The other kicker is that I never intended to fall into poetry when I first started writing. It just kind of happened. I tried it, it was published, I tried it again, more of the same. I love putting them together and think it will be a lifelong thing for me.

There's also the fact that most songs are just poems put to music. And rock stars are cool, so there's that.

I think I'll run with that thought and close with a song by Supertramp that is as much poetry as it is song.

Blogging off...

Lord is it Mine? ***

I know that there's a reason why I need to be alone
You show me there's a silent place that I can call my own
Is it mine, Oh! Lord is it mine?

You know I get so weary from the battles in this life
And as many times it seems that you're the only hope in sight
Is it mine, Oh! Lord is it mine?

When everything's dark and nothing seems right,
There's nothing to win, and there's no need to fight

I never cease to wonder at the cruelty of this land
But it seems a time of sadness is a time to understand
Is it mine, Oh! Lord is it mine?

When everything's dark and nothing seems right,
You don't have to win, and there's no need to fight

If only I could find a way
To feel your sweetness through the day
The love that shines around me could be mine.
So give us an answer, won't you,
We know what we have to do,
There must be a thousand voices trying to get through.

***Music and Lyrics by Supertramp

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