Saturday, October 2, 2010

306) poets and rock stars

the literary life 10/2/10

So I've been listening to a lot of music lately. I go through phases. Sometimes it's a little and other times it's a lot. I think the reason for my recent revived interest is the fact that I drive about an hour a day (to and from work). And I love listening to music in the car. At home I listen to mellower stuff like classical music, but in the car I'm willing to turn up the volume and rock out, so to speak. Let me name drop a little: I've been listening to Sting, Cake, The Doors, Nirvana, Morrissey, Tori Amos, The Strokes, The Stone Roses, and Pink Floyd. I've listened to Robert Plant, Davide Bowie, and Paul Simon. A wide assortment of stuff. And it's been inspiring to me as a poet. I've been thinking, poets and rock stars have something in common at the creative core. There's a kind of intensity, craziness, and freeness to both art forms. And I've been listening to song lyrics more closely--with my poet mind. Working full time, I'm busy grading, teaching, and lesson planning during the week. I don't always have time to read poetry on a daily basis. So music, in a way, provides an engaging substitute, which keeps me connected to some poetic vibe. This has made me rethink my early years--during high school and college when I read some poetry but not enough. Still, I was heavily into music during this time. And I was really into lyrics. So I was, in a way, "reading" some poetry through music all along.

I think I want to write some poems inspired by music, by rock, and by artists I love. I'm not sure exactly what I mean yet, but I want to meditate some more on this connection. I mean, poetry is not typically meant to be sung and recited to a musical background. It's meant to be encountered on the page. And the bank account of a successful poet doesn't typically measure up to bank account of a successful rock star. Poets and rock stars are, in the end, different animals. But poetry is also a performative art where voice and intonation are important. Like a song, it can be empowering to speak a poem aloud. And poets, like musicians, are passionate people--willing to be eccentric. So I've decided I want to bring some rock and roll vibe into my poetry life: I've decided I'm going to take voice lessons next year to become a better performer of poetry. I'm going to keep listening to music and buy some more CD's. I'm going to read some biographies/autobiographies of rock starts. Last month I read a biography about Tori Amos. This week I started reading Sting's Broken Music about his early life leading up to The Police. I'm only on page 30 or so and Sting's already quoted four or five poets. So I think: crank up the volume and sing along. Writing a poem has got something in common with writing a song.

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