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BRITISH-IRISH-POETS  1998

BRITISH-IRISH-POETS 1998

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Subject:

Poetry defined as Performance Art

From:

"Ernest Slyman" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Ernest Slyman

Date:

Sat, 14 Feb 1998 22:52:10 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (71 lines)

Dear Orlando--

(Thank you for your polite inquiry.)

To assume that the age in which one lives is somehow greater than all those
eras which preceded us is erroneous. One might safely assume much of the
poetry written during one's life is not poetry. But spiritualism.

I hold no grudge against spiritualism. Or those low in spirits. Singing
hymns, reciting psalms. Feeling guilty of their daily sin. All to the good,
if words redeem, move the spirit. I commend the movement.

However, spiritualism isn't literature. It's inspiration without talent.
It's noise, excitement, fanfare. It's the celebration without the event.

Words are alive. A poem or a fiction is a living organism, and one can
clearly trace one's ancestry. The literary models/parallels run from the
beginning of language through us, spill from our pens onto the page. The
poem lives on the page.

A poet's ability to recognize the literary models/parallels that precede him
or her decides the fate/merit of the poet. Making a contribution is the
desired end.

Spiritualism is the sound and fury. It's all the wind and none of the fire.
We can't stand on spiritualism.

This approach permits me some insight into the fervor and zealotry of those
who write and consider themselves profound contributors to high literature.
This self-delusion has led to a dirth of cyber-poets, slammers, performance
artists. The boasters who perhaps drink too much or dabble in drugs for a
high.

It perhaps is a result, this spiritualism, of illiteracy. People perceive
poetry as inspiration and not literary structure. The human voice carries
some blame here. People reading their work aloud. Confusion and
self-delusion results as they perform their poems.

Perhaps click their heels, dance, turn about. Kiss the air. Facial
expressions, twinkle in the eye. Nevermind the writing, it's the voice let
go in the air with sweet smiles. If you have a lovely voice, then you have a
lovely poem.

Myself, I was telephoned just yesterday, and a gentleman wanted to know if I
had a video of myself reading my poetry. His voice was excited. I had to
inform him I wasn't a performer. I was a poet. I would read for his cabaret,
yes. But I would not learn my lines and perform like an actor. Even for the
hundred dollars he was offering.

I haven't heard from this fellow. It's been two weeks.

To assume that great poetry accompanies every age is preposterous. There are
few poets among us.


(Thank you for visiting my homepage. The fact is I grew up in Appalachia. I
was born in the UK. A small error on my part by my secretary who did my
homepage. Don't have the time or patience for such things.)

Ernest Slyman
HomePage
www.geocities.com/soho/7514







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