Friday, September 9, 2011

Statement/ Poetry is free, and democratic. The Individual and the Universal.

I have been reading Yeats, lately--something I have not done in earnest in nearly thirty years, although once one reads Yeats for the first time or in earnest again, one starts to realize that the poet is the person as much as a shifting voice in the poem. Yeats, according to Ellmann's study, was an alternatingly sensitive & arrogant, questioning & declaring human being (in other words, much like a version of human beings at their extremes and midlands everywhere). He realized, with the help of constant study and practice, that "the individual self" is--because we each are the 'eater of the fruit of action'--"The universal Self, maker of past and future." (Another philosophy influenced him here, much as it did Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg--among many others [Ginsberg, as I often repeat, liked to remind 'The local is the only universal'].) I would add that, in terms of the poetics of the "eating" and of the "fruit" and of these "actions," the individual--in group or alone--is as well the maker of the present (composed of past and future). Present.

For those interested, I had tried to post a list of engagement on the site I think it is with the arrogance of Yeats--which, given the realities of writing itself, is not an arrogance at all but breath breathed into sympathy. Out of daily concerns a writer like Yeats is either drained to nothing or energized to action. As Lorca alluded, his shoulders may be "worn" by the moon. May there be light.

The grassroots movement to nominate an active state poet led me to compose the following:

A Statement On The Possibilities For A Poet Laureate

The poetics within our state are some of the richest on earth. Think “maple syrup,” “autumn,” “sugar on snow”; “Champlain [like an elixir for every weary eye],” or “Ascutney” (we cannot help but think of the knees, rises and peak, ancestral tongues—time here and time long ago, yes?). And then there are the individuals who continue to encounter and observe the subjects “harvested” here—who give renewed purpose to the poetics of our places and community dialog (this, too, is “Yankee ingenuity!”), all the while cultivating their own creative use and meaning into language anew to best express living here in these particular times (like a carver, one who turns a wooden bowl, or one who pulls clay; the hunter by day and actor by night). Poetry is free, and democratic.

Let’s try to bring out the poetics of Vermont as a more daily bread, a boost to the economy of conversation (and invention), a nod to the sanctity of bonds (and shared expectations), a celebration of what could be as well as what is, all expressed in language.

Beyond the functions generally described:

• Be a link between agriculture/industry & arts/education sectors.
• Invite laureates from other states (and abroad) to visit Vermont, lecture and tour.
• Inspire youth.
• Initiate an overarching project (Robert Hass’s was to promote watershed awareness)**.
• Help develop year-round “theme” events (featuring VT assets [artists or season]).
• Bring together poets and writers from all over the state (to network and serve)*.
• Call upon other poets and writers to help lead their communities in their regions.
• Work with Bread Loaf and other such venues and programs.
• Find ways for state poetics to have a presence at fairs, parades, farmers’ markets.
• Inspire elders.
• Be ready to link, honor and celebrate local/universal events as they arise/ as necessary.
• Encourage experiences across the arts (“poetry improv,” “paint/poems”).
• Offer a laureate’s column for newsletter, online, and/or newspaper syndication.
• Imagine poems on regional public transportation and at depots.
• “Commission” poems on agriculture, Vermont history, Vermont’s features and future.
• Help document and conserve written & oral expressions (records and archives).
• Help provide moral support for Poetry Out Loud throughout the year.
• Acknowledge singular poems and singular writers; seek recognition process, grants.
• Be an advocate for others.
• Help develop creative outlets and literacy in prisons and local institutions.
• Consider how Vermont poetics can contribute to larger issues (exchange programs?).
• Consider how VT poetics can relate to disaster (quakes, sunami); community response.
• Invite poets from Canada to tour Vermont institutions.
• Encourage college writing programs and poetry in the schools.
• Find ways to support book development, booksellers, and print/media in the state.
• Be available to the Dept. of Libraries, Education, and Humanities Council (& other depts/services)
• *Form a “phone tree” of poets, county to county; help arrange exchange visits.
• Brainstorm with state film, music, book festivals toward collaboration.
• Work with national organizations to broaden their awareness of VT’s poetics.
• Celebrate the state’s literary legacy and support lifetime achievement.
• Be on call to foster and sustain the health & vision of individuals, towns, agencies and organizations through poetic visitation.
• Be present to lend a voice, eyes and ear.
• Foster a broad coalition of artists, community to community. . . a network and council, so to speak, to enliven the gift economy and the creative economy—not mutually exclusive.
• To see poetry as an “art of action.”

** Overarching projects: e.g. “Preservation of landscape, character.” Work w/ various agencies.

O.k., back to Yeats' country. Slan agat! Poetry is good food.