As you know, I think gender isn’t about the text, it’s about the subtext, not about the prose but rather about the poetry in our choices. (I feel confident in saying, “as you know,” because I am pretty well convinced that at this time, I’m the only one reading this blog.)
After all, anyone can cook dinner or soothe a baby or fix a car, but somehow, the way women and men do these things is different. My green haired femme friend Wolfie used to have a special long denim skirt she wore to work on the car, handy enough to use as a tool wiper.
I recently put an entry in an internet “poetry contest” to get a free magazine subscription. Since I knew what the deal was, I wrote an incomprehensible, meaningless soup of words, but soon afterwards the e-mails started. My poetry was excellent, and the committee was offering me an invitation to a prestigeous, select body of poets based on my submission. Since then, I have had offers to buy compilation volumes with my poem included and so on. It was crap, but they know enough people will believe their work is good that this automated flattery will pull in the dollars.
At a Unitarian book club, I watched some new-age types interpret some Vedic scripture. They read it, and started saying what it meant to them. I tried to introduce the idea that maybe, just maybe, we should have some context, trying to understand what the passage meant to those who wrote it, but my idea was poo-poohed. Why should they try to do that hard work when they were perfectly capable of assigning their own meanings to the words?
These are the two sides of poetry today. Whatever we put out is good, no matter how effectively it communicates, and whatever we think about what others put out is sufficent, no need to understand their meaning. It all comes down to seeing everything in the context of self, and not having that self challenged enough to be good & powerful, in creation or in interpretation.
Running though the WalMart yesterday, normies kept stepping right in front of me, oblivious to who was around them. As a queer, I couldn’t imagine doing that behaviour. I have to be aware of my environment, can’t take for granted that people will move for me. I was once carrying boxes through a tiny door into a hall where a bridal fair was taking place, and two women looked at me oddly everytime I would step to the side to let others pass. They didn’t understand why I did that, until their fourth or fifth trip, when they finally got that being aware of others made things better.
This is the challenge of poetry, too. To express, we have to be aware of ourselves, and aware of the craft & conventions of expression, and aware how others respond to expression. And to engage, we have to be aware of others, what they mean by what they say, and what meaning they are trying to convey with the symbols they have.
Me, well, I’m poetry deprived. So few people are aware of their own creation, their own poetry, that they also aren’t aware of the creations of others. When dress becomes comfort, that reflects how so much of the rest of our lives becomes comfort, the comfort of not having to be clear and bright in expression, not having to be open and engaging to the expression of others.
I love communication, and you can’t love communication without loving the conventions and canards of communications, the poetry that comes with nuance and layering.
I miss having people delight me with their poetry, and I miss having people delight in my poetry. I feel the deprivation, and I feel the rust coming into me, decay where that shiny machinery of poetic brilliance should be in action.