Friday, June 17, 2011
IN THE FLESH
I have an unfortunate tendency to begin reading many books and never finish them. I have an obscene pile on my bedside table of chapters half digested, makeshift bookmarks sticking out of the tattered pages - each one a reminder of a short lived enthusiasm for a particular idea or work of fiction I believed - once I ran my hands over the inside cover page - would profoundly change my life.
Once I get the gist of a book I get lazy and it stays with me in my in my bag for quite some time - creating the illusion of it being read as it gets battered around for weeks until I admit to myself I'm never really going to open it again and it resides on the top of my towering stack. I think I'm a sucker for instant gratification - something not all books provide. I do like reading books but I get a lot more out of poetry. I find it's more straight up - a profound statement can be eloquently expressed in only a few short lines. Poetry is about a really specific selection and placement of words that can achieve an emotional reaction quicker than anything else. In terms of straightness, Pop songs are great examples of poetry. Talk about getting your point across in under three minutes, that's tough.
I'm talking about the 'YEAH' moment - you can get to this 'YEAH' moment after spending a week reading a book by Jean-Paul Sartre or you can get to it by reading a really short, spot on poem by Leonard Cohen e.g
'ALONE AT LAST'
How bitter were
the Prozac pills
of the last
few hundred mornings.
It's craftsmanship and it's about being a 'word-smith' (A term my Aunty coined.) It's about being discerning with your words. YEAH. Poetry is successful when it doesn't try to have the complexities and delayed "YEAH" as a novel.
At the moment I'm really into Blondie in particular this incredible song from 1976 (what a year) 'In The Flesh' (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I9hJDUHTLUg), which was only a hit in Australia after it was accidently played instead of X-Offender on Countdown. It is a brilliantly straight song. "HANDS OFF THIS ONE SWEETIE, THIS BOY IS MINE"