Saturday, October 14, 2006

Boots and a Crime Against Nature

The Rockrose Moon (A Serial Fiction) Part 16

It was my birthday earlier this week and a gallery owner named Bobby insisted on taking me out to the Coast to Bandon for a few days of lots and lots of sex.

He is one of those gray at the temples, drives too fast, talks on his cell phone all the time mid life guys. Dime a dozen, but he did pay for a trip to a salon for a set, trim and blow out and bought me a pretty new black dress and best of all some brown suede boots. Yum, real suede, so wicked in this rainy city.

We stopped by his house on Thursday on our way back and as all these guys do, he turned on the big screen television the minute he walked in. It was PBS, the local show, “Art Beat” and he went to wash up when they started talking about poetry.

He could care less about poetry other than telling me he’d hang a show of my poems with my photographer friend’s pictures sometime to get me into bed with him. Hey, I just wanted him to pay for dinner.

I think I need to be more precise here, they weren’t actually talking about poetry, they were talking about Lawson Inada who for years taught poetry and has been named Oregon State’s fifth ever Poet Laureate.

Christian and I went to see him a few years back at a fundraiser reading at the Japanese Historical Society’s new museum. I loved loved loved the building (an old hotel for Japanese immigrants) but the poetry reading was about as boring as you can get.

He is a nice guy, very American in spite of his time in an internment camp as a child. He is, like David Bicycle, a very well loved teacher, particularly by Paulette Paul, the local poetry maven of the mostly academic world. So this isn’t about him as a person. His poetry sucks. Seriously.

And there he is all 60’s jazz and multicultural and if I try hard enough you can almost see my black roots showing bebop hip in clipped cheerful rhythms saying, “I am not going to be the Johnny Appleseed of Oregon poetry, I am going to be the Wal-Mart Greeter. They have those cool orange vests.”

“Anybody, everybody has poetry inside of them, my job is to bring it out.

Yeah-right Lawson, everybody has a fricking air guitar player in them but that doesn’t make them write “Layla”.

This just makes me completely and totally insane.

Poetry is art and is close to impossible to do well. Nobody goes to the schools and says everybody in this room can be a composer, sit there in this moment without any training and be cute and clever and write a nocturne will you?

My mom, when she was a little girl had the opportunity to go to Leonard Bernstein’s young people’s concerts in L,A. She would talk about how funny and amazing and awe inspiring it was to realize how much training and discipline and sheer desire went into one playing of Peter and the Wolf.

No matter how well intentioned and full of good will Mr. Inada is, what he is doing feels to me like a crime against nature… at least my nature as a person who struggles mightily to write not only the best poems I can but to write something that shoots towards the best poems that have ever been written. Somewhere up there by the moon.


Blogger chiefbiscuit said...

I think it's funny Rose, how you descrbe poetry more than the sex with the middle-aged guy - maybe it just shows you've got your priorities right?

4:46 PM  

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