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Poetry Cabaret: Where Poetry Comes from

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Nov. 6th, 2008 | 09:35 pm

I mentioned some things from the Writers Fest's poetry cabarets at Humanyms.

Further from that time with Monty Reid, Dannabang Kuwabong, Meredith Quartermain, moderated by Rhonda Douglas...

On the question of writing as catharsis and healing, Monty Reid said, yes and no. It can be, in the process of writing, but ironically enough to publish and perform the poems means reliving. He also said of the writing process that poetry projects fail with more regularity than individual poems and he thinks that has to do with intentionality. For a project you have an intention pushing poems rather than letting the unconscious drive. The rest of the panel nodded agreement.

Dannabang Kuwabong said the why of a poem is a dangerous question for any poet. It's an attempt to answer. He is interested in the how not why of poetry. So far as writing cathartically it is not an act of erasing, forgetting but acknowledging and overcoming, to laugh off the bad things and add joy to pain, an attitude also espoused by Junot Díaz in his talk.

For Kuwabong poetry descends from oral. The oral informs the page and poetry is alive when spoken. God is a poet. He spoke a word and created life. Some of his poetry comes out of the dirge traditions of his culture. He found it interesting that as he did genealogical research, he found himself in Jamaica and recognized food and music from Ghana. It didn't seem like a separate world.

On the subject of inspiration Reid said that poetry is promiscuous. It comes from almost anywhere. It comes from the interplay of what's outward and inwards. There is no temple of muses that sends inspiration to a narrow selection of the chosen. It's everywhere available to any mind that will have it.

Meredith Quartmain (see Alterran Poetry Assemblage interview) meditates on Matter. She described the process of writing as a genesis. Expository writing is recording what's past and dead. A new experience has to happen on the page in the writing and in the reading to spark.

Her reading had lots of provoking turns of phrase: the gurge of word regurgitates...it laughs typhoons and names are the instruments of thought...not vehicles of but wings for flight. The idea of biology and categories mixed with the thesaurus and how the biologist who created Roget's Thesaurus was grouping ideas into families of thought.


Sidenote: ahhh poetry blogs and the art of making a poetry reading and the new Otoliths is live.

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