Ouija board Poetry

Poetry to me is a simple expression. I do not know the science of writing. I do not have a degree of higher learning. I think students of journalism and creative writing will become great teachers to other students that will become teachers.

Writing, especially poetry, has always been something I understood how to do. At least the kind of poetry and writing I create. Maybe it was the authors like Whitman I read as a younger man with eager zeal. I do not look for form, functionality, or even reason. As I begin to write, a purpose to a piece develops on its own. I believe the words will come and what is needed will appear. I think Charles Bukowski said it best, “As the spirit wanes the form appears”.

The clouds in my head get jumbled with words, conversation, and my insecure rhetoric at all times. The hardest part for me is to stop. I have to stop listening to the songs of conversation in my head and translate them to paper the best I can. It as if I am listening to a foreign opera and must translate that into an english instruction manual on operating a Machine I’ve never used.

I do have a desire at times to edit some of the poetic pieces I write. I take pause at this. The expression changes as I edit it. It becomes longer and more watered down. It becomes a disgusting meal I never ordered but am too lazy to send back to the kitchen. The original was something along the lines of a Filet Mignon of originality and fresh garden vegetables of soul. I edit the poem and to me it becomes a super sized poem called a Big Mac and French Fries of complacency.

I do not believe proper editing is wrong. I am not saying that editing cannot create great works. I am also not saying I do not edit my writing, or that editing a piece of poetry will make it worse. What I am saying is that a different message is delivered after a passage of time, an eraser, or additional ink is applied to a poem.

I suppose I am a romantic in the idealism of free verse writing. I have a belief that I am a soul writer and what is put to paper is a perfect expression. It could be the training I was put through in English class as a child. We were timed and told to write what came to mind and to not stop for ten or fifteen minutes. After a period of time I got accustomed to putting these writings aside as windows to my soul.

Maybe people will call what I do diary writing, or merely journal writing. I disagree completely with this. I think Journal or diary writing is a completely different and unique form of artistic creation.

I write so much, so quick, and so often that I do not try to relate or love anything I write. I feel that the original fast paced piece that I composed will be understood at some point by either myself or someone else now or in the future. Oftentimes, the poem I love when I write it, I hate later.

Also, on the flip side, I will write something totally obscure one day and weeks, months, or years later I come back to it and fall in love. I “get it”. I find an outsiders perspective of the poem and understand a deeper meaning I did not quite comprehend at that moment it was created. Sometimes coal does become a diamond. The fact though is this; you can shine shit with fresh mint polish all you want, but in the end it is still shit.

I do not define the poems I write. The titles most times come from the piece itself. I find some clever word or phrase and it becomes the title. Or, I get desperate to name it so I can find it later. I do not try to facilitate something that will be liked, loved, Appreciated, or applauded with the title or the content to the casual reader. My writing is a lifelong journey that will only be understood as a complete piece.

I write to myself more than anything. Wait. I do not to myself, but for myself. I think of that future audience that has a grand anthology of my writing and I get jealous that they “get it” and I don’t. I honest believe that if you are totally understood and loved by your contemporaries you are a joke in some way. You are a drive through window for a fake meal. History tells the tale and I am yet to find a contemporary voice that tells the truth of me.

I think myself an intellectual. I do not and will not dumb down what I write to be a conformist or popular. I have no desire for fame in my own lifetime. I Rue the day that my writing appeals to and is understood by random curious readers like the soccer moms. I will not edit my soul to fit into their libraries that are filled with self help books and cosmopolitan magazine.

Writing, especially poetry is very emotional. The daunting task takes a lot out of me afterwards. To go back and edit a piece beyond the day it was written is to create fake emotion. Maybe that is wrong to say. It may not be true for all writers. I can only speak for myself, and I know the moment of zen for me is inside the rapid manic state of my poetry.

I love the fact that I ramble. I like my senseless direction and randomness that will appear in the road of ink on paper. I find the best moments are those when I’m truest to the manic moments of creation. I cannot write a real love song when I am not in love. I can display the words, but with no conviction to the definitions I provide.

I can talk of being happy when I am depressed. It is an easy survival technique in the world today. I can blend and mend my crooked face and make smiles appear. I can even read and write things of happiness. These are merely hallmark scribbling with no soul to offer the world. They are thieves in the night that steal my time.

I thank my disposition and my ever changing emotional and borderline personality as a gift and curse. I do not attempt to write happy when sad or write love sonnets when I hate the idea completely. To edit is to forge an emotion I don’t see in the mirror, and I cannot fathom bringing bastards such as that into the world.

Now grammar is a different story. I admit to my horrible grammar, and most times a poor ability to spell. I appreciate technology in that it will allow me to look less ignorant. I attempt to keep a fresh pad at hand when I begin to spell check and correct grammatical errors. That way, when I feel the desire to rearrange or edit the flow of a poem, I just start something new and come back to grammar work later.

I feel that the need or desire to edit is projected on the writer. It is pushed upon the artist by an audience that wants to connect to the piece. Contemporaries who do not understand what you wrote. Hell, If I do not “get it” yet, why should I give a shit if you don’t “get it”? Hopefully one day in a distant future, there will be a hopeful intellectual wondering the dusty alleys of a library and will pick up my anthology and begin to unravel the idiocy of my unedited works.

I hope this future reader will discover what it is that makes me confident in my ability. I hope he understands that during my life I wrote as if I was putting my pen to Ouija board and allowing the spirit to form the words for him understand on that fine day.

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2 thoughts on “Ouija board Poetry

  1. siubhan says:

    Well now.

    A question: do you think Whitman edited his own work at any point? Neruda? Bukowski? I’d be willing to bet my left arm (and I write with that hand, mind you) that the answer is affirmative in at least two of the three cases.

    I disagree completely that editing one’s work makes it more “watered down.” To the contrary, what good editing does is make the work more vivid, cutting out unnecessary redundancies so that the poem and its intent come into sharper focus.

    Those exercises you were given in English class as a child, to write without stopping or censuring? Many adult writers use tools like this, too. They are brainstorming sessions, intended to get creativity flowing. Neither your grade school English teacher nor the professor of any MFA Creative Writing course is expecting–or even wanting– finished works out of such exercises.

    As to the question of a poem’s intent being changed with editing over time, a couple qualifiers are needed. How much time has lapsed between the first write and subsequent edits? Where are you emotionally between when you first put pen to paper and when you broke out the red ink? Certainly, intents and emotions change over time. This doesn’t dictate whether one emotion–or emotional product, i.e. the version of the poem itself–is more valuable or valid than the other. Whenever I make edits to a piece I did initially at any length of time in the past, I save both versions; who knows when a line I crossed out initially may again seem genius to me?

    “I have a belief that I am a soul writer and what is put to paper is a perfect expression.” Ah, um. Bullshit. I’m sure there are golden moments when a single line comes out perfect, or a single phrase. An entire poem? At one time, without re-thinking even a single word? (Because re-thinking or even groping for the right word is mental editing in itself, you know.) A perfect expression of what, exactly? And to whom? Even great writers have bad days. What makes the expression of your soul that much more valuable than that of mine? Or Sarah Palin’s, for that matter? When you can capture the heart of a reader with the expression of your own, then you’ll know. When you can do the same with a nation of hearts, then you’ll be poet laureate and you can talk to me about “perfect expression.”

    And speaking of audiences, I’ve heard the line, too, that “to be great is to be misunderstood.” However, I don’t think being understood by one’s contemporaries necessarily makes one “a joke.” That would mean that there are no poets of today who are worth looking up to. Really? One of my favorite American poets is Jimmy Santiago Baca, whose work tends to be concrete and, as it happens, fairly understandable. I’ve read his autobiography; I get where he’s coming from. Does that make him somehow less of a poet, because he’s understood while he’s alive? Gimme a break.

    “I Rue the day that my writing appeals to and is understood by random curious readers like the soccer moms. I will not edit my soul to fit into their libraries that are filled with self help books and cosmopolitan magazine.” First of all, that second sentence does not necessarily follow from the first. No one is asking you to “edit your soul,” certainly not me. But here you put yourself at a distinct vantage point from, say, Whitman, who identified himself with the common man. I see it as the more “random curious readers” who can glean something from your writing, the better job as a poet you’ve done at communicating your soul to the world. It has nothing to do with intellectualism or “dumbing down,” but with how well you do at translating your emotions onto the paper. We all have the same emotions, after all– even soccer moms.

    I’ve had this argument before with other poets, who want to be read and heard primarily by other poets, making poetry a rather elitist society where somehow all the “poets” are in an intellectual plane above the rest of the world, and only they can understand their own words.

    To this I say, again: bullshit. I agree with Whitman. Poetry is for every human being, and the world would be a better place if we all had a little more of it in our lives.

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