I have been writing a lot lately, but little of it has been prose. Most has been poetry, and some like that, but it seems most people (in the United States, at least) almost fear poetry because of its mystic unfamiliarity. I remember studying very little poetry in elementary, middle and high school, and even my exposure in college has been largely limited to specifically poetry-oriented classes. I wish that hadn’t been. Poetry is a wonderful way of discovering new avenues of language; a wonderful way of encouraging innovative individual thought. At the same time, it can be such a great relief from the burden of quotidian frustration that one can’t help but to feel more connected and less alienated from society.
Even though a few unfortunate things have happened to me in recent months, (one or two rather distressing and depressing), I have regained, by reading, writing and discussing poetry consistently for the first time in my life, my cynical optimism of my teenage California days. Whereas I had once enjoyed a hope, questioning and vigilant, for the future, I had begun to succumb to a general resignation to my circumstances, lying down before the hand of fate unquestioningly and without passion. But since this summer, when I finally managed to take my first creative writing course centered entirely around writing for expression and I daresay the creation, (pretentious as it may be), of art, I have found myself increasingly inspired and happy. By ordering and structuring words into meaningful, original sentiments, the foggy swamp of depression, malaise and withdrawal I had been trudging through began to dissipate, or at least regain some transparency, and I have reverently enjoyed my moments of true joy and excitement, which for the last nearly six years had been far too infrequent and fleeting.
Writing has not only led to some of the best moments and experiences in all of my time in Texas, but through sharing it I have had days, nights and dates with diverse, truly interesting, genuine and lovely people in unexpected, unfamiliar but interesting places. Nights which have led me to form a respect, albeit begrudging, for this state. Where once I felt dispassionate flames of scorn and resentment I now feel warm embers of veneration and even affection. While I don’t fit in here––I never have, and probably never will––I feel like I’m finally beginning to understand the people here.
I’ve been thinking about what makes people different, and selfishly what makes other people different from me. Here arises another newly discovered linguistic exploration: trying to converse and write about thoughtful subjects succinctly and naturally in another language (in my case, French). While our first discussions in my première classe en Français entièrement were limited to the relatively basic subject of friendship, we focused on largely anecdotal differences between French and American friendship. While contemplating these differences in forming and writing my viewpoint for this class, I began to think of how cultures began and begin, and how friendship figures in. I started wondering about tribal man, who was not in the least uncivilized in the sense of his unique understanding of his own neighbors and friends, regardless of his complexity of technology. Perhaps we have not outgrown this understanding but grown out from it, more seamlessly interweaving ourselves, like the large, regional tribes that dominated the Americas prior to European settlement. Perhaps communication and transportation has simply knitted us into much larger, denser groups, so differences in custom are less apparent than they once were, but still detectable if one focuses intently and honestly enough on the people he meets.
By contemplating and examining this subject in poetry and as a potential topic for a full-scale fictional work, I’m beginning to feel a closeness to Texas, a connection to place that for so long has been absent from my being. Born in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, I have always felt connected to the dignified, self-sustaining repose provided by Nature as Beauty. Now that I set my developing poetic eye upon le visage and l’essence of this place, in the scope of its inhabitants, I feel as though I can finally appreciate my time here, despite the anomie and alienation I had often found myself unwilling to escape from. To poeticize: My days here near their end; the last blow not a strike, but a reticent kiss.
I don’t fear poetry, I just freaking dislike it! There is nothing mystic about that. Honestly, I think I’m just too direct and unless one’s poetry is being sung in a song, I’m all about getting to the damn point already. I just can’t stand how superfluous and bombastic poetry feels. It’s a bit presumptuous to say that the majority of us Americans aren’t into poetry because it’s scary and unknown to us, and perhaps a bit over our small, little American minds.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m an American, and I’m too damn impatient to sit and read nine-zillion lines of flowery, Mozart-like words when it takes a lot less to get the job done, and still eloquently so. Perhaps I’m not the only one?
You should join some sort of poetry group. I’m sure there is a poetry night or something in Austin. I know there is one in South Carolina, so surly there must be. You know, you could find your own kind, people who enjoy poetry as much as you do. It would be a nice way to socialize!! :D Just sayin’.
I am. I’ve made a number of acquaintances as well who are writers, or poets, or otherwise expressively inclined people. I wasn’t so much making a comment about Americans being unable to comprehend poetry so much as never having the exposure to it that makes us feel comfortable with it, with talking about it, with trying to write it especially. But as I’ve gotten further into it, I’ve felt a tremendous upwelling of creativity and excitement. Where once there was only a somewhat confounded apathy I now have an empowered, proud, and fresh exhilaration. It’s a nice thing to write something that’s only ten lines long and sums up an entire several months’ worth of a relationship without having to actually say it. I had never really realized how nice it felt to take my emotions and twist them into words and pictures until they’re more than just passing momentary sensations.