Then you better start swimmin'
Or you'll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin'
Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
Keep your eyes wide
The chance won't come again
The Times They Are-A-changin', Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan selling cars in a Superbowl ad means one more idol brought down to earth. No matter how many times he said “Detroit,” we all knew it was about him. The man I imagine cruising around in a VW bus has slipped several rungs down my “cool” ladder.
So much of what we do is based on reacting to societal pressure. Popular culture is hard to disengage from, even without our interest, it appears daily on our phones and computers . . . we know immediately when someone has been humiliated or defamed, or if someone has accomplished an amazing feat.
As poets, we must create a space deep enough for our thoughts; our quiet moments need to be subterranean deep. We may be in a coffee shop or at home, but the space inside needs simplicity, non-clutter, silence. That means less social media, less conversation, fewer texts.
I’ve found myself with less interest in the internet, a few perusals of facebook a week is enough to satisfy my curiosity. Most of us post on social media the things that put us in a favorable light. If we said what we thought, if we were honest, how much better the exchange.
Someone posted a quote from Charles Bukowski , People empty me. I have to get away to refill. It was not upbeat, but it was honest, and exactly the way I feel. I remember, even as a child, I could only do some much socializing, it exhausted me, and then I had to retreat to my room. I was like a run-down battery that needed recharging.
I’m not advocating becoming a recluse, but in this media-hyped country, the contemplative poet needs to find ways to take care of her or himself. A poem comes from the core self, or at least it should, and if we are to protect that self, turning our phones off, disengaging from the internet, even writing in long-hand, may be necessary tricks in order to wrestle with our demons.
The demons are still there, we are just too distracted to notice. I’m guessing they’re making a mess of us while we ignore them.
Quiet your mind. Refill. Call out your demons. Wrestle.
Otherwise you’ll be spewing the same homogenized work as everyone else, or hawking Chryslers for Detroit.
My writing often deals with the environment, my poetry filled with allusions to natural and man-made disasters. I have unlimited hope though, there is just too much wonder in this world to become a defeatist. As Margaret J. Wheatley said, Hopelessness has surprised me with patience.