The Indy Showcase is back with another segment of A Poet's Mind by Poet/Author Alex Ness.
People who buy music with completely arid lyrics, without a hint of life about it, with sing song rhythm and absolutely childish rhyme look down upon books of poetry. They do so because poetry has come from two sources, the childish rhymes of our childhood, and the academia writers who have tried to elevate it so high as to be out of reach of the common person. When people think of poetry, they think of nursery rhymes, they don’t think of the fact that songs are poetry, they don’t think that commercials they hear every day are poetry, they don’t look at greeting cards as poetry. But it is. So we have this disconnect between the world’s perception of poetry and what it is, and so we should ask why, but more Importantly, go beyond the perception and challenge it to say, who cares about perception.
I write poetry of many forms, genres and styles. I do my best to ignore form, genre and style. I believe that the point of poetry is to capture moments, ideas, and emotions in words, and the only way to do that effectively is by ignoring every convention that is recognizable. That makes my work ignored, derided and considered to be not serious. And I don’t care. I don’t care about perception. I care that what I’ve written is good, and what I’ve written is what I’ve intended to be there upon the page.
I do write epic poetry. Epic poetry has a number of different definitions but it evokes moments of the past, tells straight forwards stories, is less emo, less defined by the individual speaker in the poem, and is generally telling a story about a moment in history or fantasy that is memorable, deserves to be told, and is written in such a way that deserves to be read aloud, or illustrated with paintings or drawings. But even there, what is epic for one person may be boring for another. I marvel at battles and horses and knights, others likely do not. So perceptions of what I write do amount to something in that, if the subject matter doesn’t appeal, and it is poetry, and the buyer hates poetry and doesn’t like the subject matter, there won’t be a sale.
But, as any creative person learns, every thing we do matters. Every great work we create, whether read by one or one hundred, matters. I’ve been told that various poems of mine have changed people’s lives. I do not know if that is true. But if it is true, that is a great compliment. I was told that a poem I wrote about the massacre of Jews in Babi Yar Ukraine was part of a required reading for a Holocaust class in a European classroom in College. That is high praise, and I am very moved by that. So you never know what you might do by your work, by doing it. So I am saying, regardless of perceptions by others, it is important to DO it. Not just think about doing it.
The following poem I wrote on Mother’s Day for my biological mother, who I never met. She was raped on New Year’s eve/January 1, 1963 and I was born October 1, 1963.
By the beat of my heart
I know you were hurt
You felt like all it ever did was rain
But you gave me a gift
There in my heart is a beating pulse
From the life you gave me
While in so much pain
I am unaware of who you are
Despite your having a name
Because you gave me up
In love, in having hopes for me
That came from above
I was your child and flesh
But you gave me to others
So that I could thrive
And have a breath
Of air that wasn’t empty
Of all I needed to survive
You gave me up
But I know if I were to lay my head
Upon your chest while you slept
I’d recognize you from the beat that you left
In my heart when you gave me away
So that I could be given more
So that you could let me be saved
And in the absence of your touch
I remember your love
From the constant beat
Of my heart
That you gave to me
When you gave me up
In love for me
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