The Columbiad’s Wild Hemispheres

Juaneco y su combo: PERÚ

Near and more near the long drawn coasts arise,
Bays stretch their arms and mountains lift the skies,
The lakes, high mounded, point the streams their way,
Slopes, ridges, plains their spreading skirts display,
The vales branch forth, high walk approaching groves,
And all the majesty of nature moves.

O’er the wild hemisphere his glances fly,
Its form unfolding as it still draws nigh,
As all its salient sides force far their sway,
Crowd back the ocean and indent the day…

Columbus traced, with swift exploring eye,
The immense of waves that here exalted lie,
The realms that mound the unmeasured magazine,
The far blue main, the climes that stretch between.
He saw Xaraya’s diamond banks unfold,
And Paraguay’s deep channel paved with gold,
Saw proud Potosi lift his glittering head,
And pour down Plata thro his tinctured bed.
Rich with the spoils of many a distant mine,
In his broad silver sea their floods combine;
Wide over earth his annual freshet strays,
And highland drains with lowland drench repays;
Her thirsty regions wait his glad return,
And drink their future harvest from his urn…

So taught the Saint. The regions nearer drew,
And raised resplendent to their Hero’s view
Rich nature’s triple reign; for here elate
She stored the noblest treasures of her state,
Adorn’d exuberant this her last domain,
As yet unalter’d by her mimic man,
Sow’d liveliest gems, and plants of proudest grace,
And strung with strongest nerves her animated race.

[excerpts from The Columbiad, Book I  by Joel Barlow, published in 1807]
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IMAGE CREDIT: therealrevo.com
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What Poetry Is (n’t)

Due to erroneous Modernist and Postmodernist assumptions,
we must define poetry in terms of negatives.

Poetry is not words to be declaimed or sung. Poetry is words printed on a page, meant to be read in private, in contemplation, and in a place where sustained mental focus is possible. The voice of the poet is relatively unimportant; the  explicit or implicit message of a poem is. Poetry is not about saying things in new ways  or pushing the boundaries of language. The role of poetry is not to agitate for social change, although that may be an indirect secondary side-effect. Poetry is not convulsive unburdening of personal esthetic/emotional observations. Just because snow on a tree-limb looked beautiful to you, please don’t write a haiku about it. Poetry is not ephemeral or disposable. It must be composed of words which will endure long enough to be viable either short-term or long-term. Intentional obscurantism is the unpardonable poetic crime. Esoteric cryptography is not to be considered valid poetry. Ad jingles and Hallmark card verses constitute a more noble art than linguistic obfuscation. Say what you want to say poetically. Then work and re-work it.

Poetry is the most useless of arts and the most important. Why? Because it is difficult to commodify. But don’t fall for that drivel they taught you in school, “poetry is whatever you want it to be“. I call BS on that RIGHT NOW. Don’t just vomit it out there and make us clean it up. Dang. The hell wrong wit chu people?  Poetry knows who you are and where you LIVE. Poetry is not playing around—those days are long over. Poetry kicked your English teacher’s cowardly ass and then spat on the semi-conscious twitching body before paying for everyone’s drinks and dancing her way out the emergency exit.  What is poetry? I have NO IDEA, but Poetry knows. Problem is, that bitch won’t tell me.  I still love her, though.

WRITE ON

Flaming the Muses: Poetic Pyromania

Haunted by data, hounded by blog-bots, assailed by algorithms, poets have been reduced to human resources, fractionated, monetized and commodified like petrochemical residues of the antediluvian world. In keeping with that metaphor imposed upon us by ourselves, we await a mere spark to begin consuming our own fuel, flaming voraciously into poetic combustion. Through this incendiary process, we liberate the very energy that an unpoetic world seeks to label, quantify and merchandize. Flame, however, cannot be commodified—only intensified, suppressed, or extinguished. Elemental fire may be started by lightning, produced by physical friction, electro-chemical reaction, or started from a pre-existing blaze. Poetry is similar; whether sent from God as a bolt of epiphany, a spontaneous combustion, or as a transposed flame inspired by anterior works, April is our month for playing with metaphysical fire. It is thus that we, as elemental (or just mental) poets, refuse, at all levels (lyrical, cultural, mercantile, geologic, celestial and infernal, etc.) to be co-opted, commodified, and/or in any way politically corrected.

We poetic oilmen and women are the active nihilists of a nihilistic era. We locate promising sites, then we draw up, from below poetic bedrock, raw inspiration. NaPoWriMo allows us to drill deep into the sedimentary layers of poetry and tap into the deposits of lyrical fuel trapped within. Some gets pumped up, some comes gushing spontaneously to the surface in a crude form. It can then be refined to varying degrees of flammability and into differing types of fuel; think diesel versus jet fuel… one will take you further faster, but both are indeed fuel.

As oilmen and women, we pump our precious resource up in raw form from subterranean seas—the remains of lyric flora and fauna of a previous age buried under the silt of an inundation of data-driven global dullness. Through sheer creative will we set these deposits ablaze, to produce, out of the incoherent night that surrounds us, poetic illumination. In the light of our own flame, we cerebrate celebrate the utter uselessness of our artistic product—by continuing to create it, refine it, and then burn it up in a transcendent pyre of irrelevance. Thus, we wage uncompromising war against the powers and principalities of technoid global dominion. Our useless words, unread and unwanted, undermine the process of attempted global conquest by the unpoetic Enemy.