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Poetry and the influence of time and space

by David Smalling
Poets, like all other artists, suffer from the vanity of clamoring for exposure. The need for exposure suggests that there are consumers waiting to acquire the product of our imagination. Hence need for exposure replaces the need to write for it now is morbidly consumed with the type of need resident in the consumer and begins to pander to it. Some calls this the spell of commercialism. I contend that it is beyond commercialism, for can be attributed to something resident in the character of the poet, the flaw the writes the poem.

I have taken my flaw to PoetrySoup where there is a congregation of a remnant of the universal flaw. Poets meet in the common site contests that tells them what to write and how to write, and the authors wanting to recognition (called winning) conform to the rules. The majority contests have a sense of entertainment, and a few challenges poets to break out of the cocoon and cross boundaries into new territories that are never sustained. Fledgling poets here, many have whom have matured and grown to find their voice, must first adapt to the coloration of this landscape, like moths on the industrial landscape seeking survival. This pressure should produce a new school of poets were conquered boundaries sustained. Yet the only commonality is the prison of the self.

I find that the less I read of the poetry on the site the more I feel the flaw of self. But this counterproductive to the sites intention, for we are a community of poets sharing and validating one another. Yet how are to interpreting validation? As an affirmation, as encouragement, as support, or as a critical commentary seeking to hold the together the human flaw and its demands. The latter cause shivers to run up the sleeves, for critics must be academics to wrest us to the ground and make us surrender to their intent. Yet every reader is a consumer in a market and have a right to what they chose to enjoy. Should they also have a right to say when the taste and color of the fruit is off? It is by crossing this boundary of the human flaw in space-time that this becomes more tenable.

Poets are humans, and they create out of a need to create, but why? What is that need? Why that creation? Some would say the flaw is our emotions, which ordinary men take for granted but we cannot be at peace with. The emotion is the pendulum of the affect of the soul, and there is no poet without affect. Affect is what the rational world is afraid of, and the emotional is regarded in a derogatory way that is similar to the stereotype of a child or a mad person. Poets are then as childish as they are mad. The world will deny this about itself, and will recover this self only through vicarious work of the artist. Some speak of this as catharsis, but I speak of this as the masquerade of geography.

Geography is time and space, and does not alone define the world of individual existence but that world where boundaries are crossed. Where the woman scrubbing the floor, and the janitor washing the public facility can read the same words and get the same feelings as the Duchess of York reading the same thing. How is this possible unless our flaws were common and identical, unless they were what created the borders of humanity? Borders? Boundaries? Flaws? The human soul thirsts for a beauty that is its own perfection, its own vision of immortality. We are flawed without immortality. It is in our mortality that we were are wounded, and this wound, this flaw confronts us with the terror of death. Death is the ugly and is separated from life by a boundary that challenges human rationality. Geography is the first rational construction of reality from which we take the image of self.

The image of self is the the child, the parent, the heartbroken lover, the victorious soldier, the defeated hero, the race or class struggling to overcome discrimination or the psychological subjugation of poverty. The self assumes the other first, and its being as an entity of a social amalgam. The social sense, the "other" sensitivity speaks to a discrete paradigm of finiteness, limitation and dependency. Rejecting all this, the poem may seem to celebrate these things, while the self is actually proposing them for critical examination. It is here the self and the poet becomes two distinct entities in one geographical moment. The self makes poetry as its eternal tears, but the poet exercise proprietorship of the poem as his/her eternal door from the crumbling reality of self. Validation at the level of positive criticism says to the self your tears are recognized, your voice is being heard, but the poet who seeks idolization cries out "I am being misunderstood," I am being treated like a human when I cannot be that again.

PoetrySoup provides a virtual geographical space where friendship is assumed, and poets endure the vanity of friends. The homosexual speaks anonymously to moral bigot, the raped and wounded speaks to a virtual world that is polite to the rapist and chauvinist, and gender wars being less than personal are applauded for honesty and use of the creative imagination. Demons and bogeymen are set loose, and we become compassionate knowing their story. Yet most significantly is the sense of being cohort, and the shaping of the cohort voice that will emerge into the literal time and space as a new genre of poetry.

One day I shall continue this paper by reviewing various work from PoetrySoup in which this new genre is being shaped. This new genre is a function of the social interaction on the site. There is no evidence of acculturation among the eclectic ethnicity of poets, but already there is a merging of style which satisfies the desire to be read and rated. In this poetry is shown to be like any other product under consumer pressure. Its mantra being "give the people what they want." Some with exalted sense of self never deviate from the religion of their style and have made apostles that forever ensures Poetry Soup will have its own longevity among the PoetrySoup generation of poets.