Tuesday, May 1, 2012

What's behind my poetry?

I get a lot of questions regarding my poetry (or in some cases, attempts at poetry), and I thought I would shed some light for my fans, my enemies and even for my stalkers.  Yep, you're all invited to this one.

The majority of my poetry is autobiographical, but not all.  Some are based on dreams I have, and others are simply random ideas that I am able to write down in time.  I got some raised eyebrows regarding my recent video where I read my poem "A Sexy Man," which many people think is based on fact.  This is not so.  I wrote this poem back in September 1999, a few days after meeting the guy (note, I didn't call him a man) who would become my first fiance, but the adulterous situation I describe never actually happened.  At this time, I didn't write many autobiographical pieces.  I didn't start doing so until the relationship with this guy began to go south, and even then I would only write about my feelings, my internal battle against insanity.    I had few options to express myself back then, and poetry became the main tool I would use.  Short stories used to be my favorite medium, but time and a decreasing attention span left many projects unfinished, so poetry became it for me.

Many love poems, beginning with those published in the last section of ROTCT and ending with poems written in the last couple of months, were inspired mostly by one man.  He was such a strong muse for me that it was very difficult to break away and find new inspiration elsewhere.  I mean, how many times can someone write about the same person over and over again?  In a perfect world, I probably could've written about him forever.  But it was not in the cards, so even a poet must move on.  Yeah I know how that sounds, you don't need to tell me.  I'm just glad I was able to move forward, even if the circumstances that led to it wasn't the best.

I used to take a cue from the beginning of episodes from "The Ray Bradbury Theater."  Hopefully you remember that old show?  Ray Bradbury himself would sit at his typewriter in this room full of curios and get inspiration from the things on his shelves. That is how I originally started to write poetry...only I had my old faithful Canon Starwriter 60 word processor at the time :)  I used to spend hours typing away on that.  I'd go downstairs into my bedroom after school, turn it on and before I knew it, it was dinnertime.  Then I'd come back, and in the blink of an eye, it was time for bed.  I wish I could still write like that.

My influences began with Emily Dickinson.  She was the first poet I read on my own and enjoyed.  I'd read Poe, Blake and a variety of other poets thanks to my reading classes in school, but Emily was the first that really stuck with me.  I bought poetry books here and there, mostly I'd buy the cheap Dover Thrift Editions from my local bookstore.  I picked up "Best Poems of the Bronte Sisters," "101 Best American Poems" and just after high school I got Jewel's "A Night Without Armor."  I read all three titles so many times.  But it wasn't until I met the man mentioned a couple of paragraphs above that I really began to expand my poetry collection.  Per his encouragement, I read Rimbaud, Rilke and Dylan Thomas.  He also introduced me to the music of Bob Dylan and Nick Drake.  On my own, I discovered Sylvia Plath, Ted Hughes, Verlaine, Villon, Baudelaire, Yeats, Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell, to name a few.  I also subscribed to Poetry Magazine and read the work of several Beat poets.  Nowadays, I have been reading the unexpurgated diaries of Anais Nin.  What an eye-opener.  She was so far ahead of her time.  Henry Miller is a natural next choice on my to-read list.

I know that some of you tend to scratch your heads at some of my work...it's just as well that you should.  Poetry is not a straightforward art form.  It is a language that few speak fluently, and in order to speak it, one must be wired a certain way.  The poet sees the world, sees life in a different way.  Perhaps we are too sensitive to emotions, events and such.  We see and sense what others cannot.  There is not always a who, a what, a where or a why in poetry.  It simply is.  Whether you are able to understand or not is in the hands of our maker.  It's like being born gay or straight, or male or female...you are a poet or you are not.  There is nothing wrong with you either way.  I just know that I have no idea where I would be today without it.  Like my friend Matthew Nolan, my pen sustains me too.