“I’ve never met a real poet before.” That’s what she said when she found out. “I didn’t know people are still writing poetry.” That’s what she said when she lost her place in line. “Can you make a living writing poetry?” That’s what she said when her flight was delayed. “I don’t really like poetry to be honest.” That’s what she said when her flight was cancelled and the snow picked up.
Fair enough: I travel in the wrong circles. But shall I stand by the plant or is the aperture angling for something just a wee more exotic? Members of the jury, distinguished practitioners of the form, dwellers in the dark and fiddlers in the field, poetry fellows on both sides of the Atlantic, zoo-keepers and bee-keepers, where oh where is our guide?
And I mean one page primer or six-page tract, glossy fold-out or pocket-sized cheat-sheet, go-to handbook or coffee table gift stuffer, ten-minute podcast or daily tweet––there is a hole, ladies and gentlemen, in this country and no one, no one seems to be talking about it, thinking about it, editorializing about it. If we don’t have an app soon, are we to blame our senators and congressmen on both sides of the aisle? Or are we to blame ourselves, our navel-gazing poetry-selves?
Now, in full, dual-citizenship disclosure, I must confess mine’s been a general mumbling and fumbling the way through, a kind of defensive posturing as default position. And it’s carried me along on both coasts, in Canada and the U.S., at weddings and at wakes, by the garden of my thoughts at the crashing of my dreams. Yet in 2014 transparency, I’m either pleased to report or shocked to reveal that a more aggressive shape has begun, finally begun to take form, hover and penetrate: “Why haven’t you met a real poet before? What is wrong with you anyway? How can you not like poetry?” “Where do you live?”
This strategy is not for everyone. Certainly. It may not even be for me. There are many kinks to be worked out and I’m still a ways away to getting to them. That said, that said there’ve been some early rewards, definitely some early rewards, and I’d be remiss and utterly selfish and totally late to the party not to share a few of them here––which I will. She did, after all, give me her vouchers.