Saturday I choose not to attend the Red Rover series and I choose unwisely. Instead of Jen Karmin's well curated experimental poetic sense. I endured a Political Poetry marathon evening curated by the Ginsburgesque Francesco Levato.
I really wanted this political night to be something moving. I normally do not attend mainstream poetry gatherings because they are usually full of bad therapy poetry, slammers, and poetry that needs a good workshop.
I am very sympathetic to Political poetry however as my first book was basically political. I feel that this type of poetry gets short shrift in postmodern poetic discourse. Having said that this gathering was a poster child for what ailes the mainstream in poetry.
There were a few good poems during the reading Kristy Odelius and Simone Muench read some of their post-confessional poems that are technically flawless are simply good poems.
Bob Archembeau did not show up and we were the poorer for it.
The fine works by Odelius and Munch were submerged in a morass of 'poems' that seemed to have been written without any thought to language impact they were all stream of consiousness pieces.
One poetic gent I especially liked.... read a poem (that was accompanied by a guitar underscore) about a church in Avila, Spain and the irony that this Church was Mosque and then was a Church.
What is ironic about this? Every church in Latin America is built over a temple. Every Mosque in Turkey is built over a church foundation. When I want my Political/Religious poetry I know where to go, Peter O'Leary, Denise Levertov Robert Duncan, Lisa Jarnot here are poets who know how to do this right without a musical score. This gent's work was so sugary
Another poet who read was billed as a human rights activist. She proceeded to read a bad poem about Palestinian suicide bombing. I think that this topic is quite serious and when Dunia Mikhail or Tariq Ali or Kasim Muhammed writes about it I listen up.
We in the west do not have a right to critique the suffering of the Palestinian people and their reactions to the pain we have caused- we should write what we know about.
This poem made me angry because of the fact that it assumed that suicide bombers do not know what they are doing. In fact the Palestinians live in an iron cage and suicide is a manifestation of dispair caused by Israel and the USA.
In the end amid the poems about mountain top mining, suicide bombings and women's oppression I kept looking for poems where language was cared for and used with its full power.
Apart from Odelius and Munch's poems that did not happen here. These types of events illustrate how hard it is to write political verse but you cannot fault them for trying.