Thursday, October 22, 2009

Wet, Wet Poetry

I went to a poetry reading last night, by Daphne Marlatt. Her poetry seems to revolve around the town of Steveston, which was once a prosperous fishing town. Now that the world has changed, it has become a bedroom community for Vancouver. I gathered that this depressed her, and that this is where all her poetry was coming from. I couldn’t help but think “get over it.” There are worse things happing in the world than the decline of a fishing town.

So, her poetry wasn’t great. It was actually kinda flat, 2-dimensional, but she the reading actually was. She’s got a good reading voice, but what made the reading memorable was the inclusion of two experimental musicians playing water-phones, saws with violin bows, and even a water-filled turkey baster for ambient aquatic sounds. It was like listening to poetry under water, without getting wet.

Afterwards, while I waited at the bus stop in the rain with Scrapbook Girl, she brought up the fact that her poetry prof was the one who organized this, and that she has a very closed mind when it comes to poetry. Marlatt is important to her prof because she defended her thesis on her, and from what I gather, Marlatt is kind of a big deal when it comes to feminism, at least in this city, in the 70s. The problem with Marlatt’s poetry is that it hyper-focuses on the decay of Steveston, which, if you haven’t been there, doesn’t really impress anything upon you. She brought up a writer who condemns poets who write all their poetry about one particular place that is significant to them. It’s fine if the poetry is just for you, but if you want others to relate, you might try aiming for themes that are a little more universal. Otherwise, you’re just another Wordsworth, and I don’t care how close to nature you think you are when you’re near Tintern Abbey.

It’s funny though. As depressing and hopeless, if not a little spaced-out as Marlatt’s poetry was, I left the university feeling uplifted. I walked home, whistling some cheery tune I made up, in the rain. Apparently I seemed so happy a few strangers couldn’t help but start talking to me. Something put me in a good mood. Maybe I like Marlatt’s poetry after all. Or maybe I just like walking in the rain.

1 comment:

Shadowthorne said...

It's the rain. Poetry never made anyone THAT happy.