Friday, May 28, 2010

Poetry makes nothing happen

When I am more alert, I will ask why I write.

'Why I Write' by Bronwyn Lea

And I will consider the poet's job.

It's the Poet's Job
It's the poet's job to remain forever outside
and forever ridiculed.
To alienate his family and friends,
to be petty and jealous and spiteful,
to fail miserably, show his soft underbelly and
grin like an idiot,
to be like Jesus Christ, Judas and the Buddha.
To chase his own tail,
avoid prizes, accolades and rewards
and never become celebrated.
Wild Billy Childish

And I will wonder what poetry does.

"You were silly like us; your gift survived us all:
The parish of rich women, physical decay,
Yourself, Mad Ireland hurt you into poetry.
Now Ireland has her madness and her weather still,
For poetry makes nothing happen: it survives
In the valley of its own making where executives
Would never want to tamper, flows on south
From ranches of isolation and the busy griefs,
Raw towns that we believe and die in; it survives,
A way of happening, a mouth."
From "In Memory of W.B. Yeats" by W.H. Auden

But tonight, because I am not alert, but very sleepy, I will think about the wrong draft of an old story I gave to friend, a draft which collapses in on itself in the last section, and which I later tried to fix up. I think about Bronwyn Lea who took a poetry subject I studied at uni, and how disappointed I was at how cosmopolitan she looked, that she wore makeup and that she wore a Dolce&Gabbana belt, when I want people who call themselves poets to be plain, with no time for the frivolous. Tonight I will think about Wild Billy Childish who featured in Tracy Emin's work, "Everyone I have ever slept with 1963-1995," and with whom he shared gonorrhea and herpes.

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