Thursday, May 18, 2006

"Unknown poetry"           [birthday boomerang]

Fifteen years of making unknown poetry

that's how I've been frittering out my middle age

all for Meher Baba who could grow a tree

easily as scrivening words upon a page

for Beloved Baba who can bloom a flower

perfect in its symbol-life and artistry

so it is we spend our late & lingering hour --

fifteen years of making unknown poetry


Poem written responsive to the occasion of my own upcoming 50tth birthday (May 20).

I've been writing poetry "seriously" (though intermittantly) since age 10. The 15 years noted in the poem reflect a more concerted poetry-focus that emerged after my 1991 move from New York City to Washington, DC. Living in New York (especially the final year, in Greenwich Village), I'd cultivated a habit of daily oilpainting. When I migrated to DC, I had (for some years) no suitable space where I could continue this practice. Instead, I returned to the practice of poetry.

For a year or so I wrote every day (typically several poems) -- always in a particular open, 21-line form of my invention. At the close of this exercise, I abandoned the form (having written perhaps 800 or more such poems); I wrote now in various other forms and modes; and the writing became more sporadic.

I assembled two manuscripts -- the first called Orison, the second A Bowl of China. I attempted to have them published, via the questionable avenue of submitting them (several years running) to the Yale Series of Younger Poets (and, to a lesser degree, to the likewise annual National Poetry Series). One can submit a MS to The Yale Series only through one's 40th year; after that, one is no longer deemed a "younger poet." Strangely, my MSS were ignored. And with that, my diffident bid for publication was fairly nipped in the bud. (I've had a few poems in arcane periodicals, and two in obscure anthologies; but I have had somewhat conflicted views of the "poetry-career-building" concept and a basic reluctance to pursue such a thing personally -- although I'm oddly eager to recommend it to others.)

For a time (since around 1996), I returned to oilpainting as a central focus; and for several years (since around '99), I shifted my creative attention to video-making.

But for the past year now, willy-nilly poetry has asserted itself as an activity demanding attention. Indeed, since a yaer ago (though I don't deem it a "regular practice" now), the days that pass without some poetry-writing have been infrequent.

Since establishing this blog last fall, this absurd proclivity & dubious activity (this time-wasting prolixity & pathetic verbosity) have taken the shape of a palpable (albeit variegated & unsatisfyingly amorphous) compilation (if we may presume to call it that) -- why the very one that you, Gentle Reader, see immediately before you. This.

Such is the short history of an obscure amusement.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

800 poems is a staggering amount of poetry David! I must say that I am impressed by your functional knowledge and form. As you probably can tell, a lot of my poetry is free verse bordering on prose with an occassional witty entry. I could only wish to stick to form, but sometimes I find it limiting (although I understand why form matters, which is why I will never win any poetry contests) -- well i did win one in 8th grade once... but i think it was by accident. :D

I happen to agree that it is probably difficult to get into the "poetry career" business. I mean how many people out there really read this sort of stuff to the degree that you aren't literally starving. I'm not sure what criteria judges use for poetry, but surely someone of your knowledge and skill should have been acknowledged in some way. It kind of sucks that genius goes unnoticed and I do not mean that to flatter you, but as to say that sometimes those judging aren't the greatest judges. (i.e. American Idol)

For me, I write to just get the words out of my head because life has had such a bewildering effect on me, swaying me from one extreme emotion to the next. It's just a way for me to make sense of the way people act and the social cat and mouse games. Poetry has a calming Zen like effect on me when I am inspired to write about my experiences.

I'm just happy that poetry has brought me to like minded and respectful people here even if we all are have different labels in the social hierarchy. Ryze is such a great way to find and make friends.

Well anyways, I also see you that you studied Chinese poetry at Berkley and do oil paintings. You must be a very quaint and peaceful spirit... indie films too... i'm nowhere near as graceful and elegant in form (though that is what i aspire to be) :)

Well, i just thought i'd drop a note here. I've enjoyed your constructive criticisms and the poetry here on your blogsite. A very high level of analysis, you do show. So thorough and thoughtful. I still cannot get the one more raindrop plopped in a puddle line out of my head. I absolutely love short verse like Emily Dickenson. So much power and meaning in a few words, properly arranged. Plopped was just the right word to use.

I guess it will be trapped in my head forever. :)

Respectfully Yours,

Sun May 21, 07:00:00 PM PDT  
Blogger david raphael israel said...

Well Jeff, that big pile of poems (in that prolific year) was for me perhaps a kind of limbering exercise. (From them, I fished out some couple dozen at most.) At some point, for some writers, it's valuable to write a lot and quite regularly, not unlike doing vocal exercises for a voice student, or scales for a pianist, or laps around the field for a runner. One needs to learn about one's "instrument" (which is basically one's own sense of language); then, other things can be done. Of course any writer or artist will find their own way; but I mention the little personal example partly as a kind of an implicit recommendation -- supposing others might find some value in this as I seemed to have done. Of course in our blogging era, some are blogging with similar regularity.


Tue May 23, 01:00:00 PM PDT  

Post a Comment

<< Home