Monday, February 22, 2010

Monday Mailbag #4

Dear Tribal Hack:

I hear poets constantly praised for nuance of meaning. But is it just a covering virtue for not knowing what the behaysooz they're talking about?

-- Frieda Illusion

Dear Frieda:

Frieda, the audacity! Don't you know that those deeper meanings, anti-meanings, no-meanings, multiple meanings, relative meanings, purposely confused and confusing meanings are only opened up when you've tiptoed through the minefield of French theory? Failing that, every poet has his or her own mythological geometry. There's more to the world than is contained in your philosophy, etc .... Except when it's the poet's.

Dear Tribal Hack:

I'm an established Canadian poet who's been reading on the circuit for decades. Lately I've noted a disturbing trend taking root from Victoria to St. John's, so it's not just a local fad. Hecklers are more frequent, but rather than direct engagement, the agitator will cough loudly and then hold up impeccably crafted calligraphy of popular retro bumper sticker and button fare: "Vote For Nixon!"; "Arms Are For Hugging"; "Free Willy". What's their real message? And what can I do about it?

-- Frank Lee Miffed

Dear Frank Lee:

Who cares about the intent? Don't let them mess with your head. Just like rock stars responding to audience suggestions, treat them like sincere requests spontaneously answered. Before your next gig, construct a few hundred poems, each bearing the title of the most popular slogans you've encountered. Honour the attitudes behind the several words. Should be fun. Here's one example to give you a feel for it.


Love, the clear and splendrous thing,
or so it goes, a wedding ring
or musical bed the seal
to the cynic's "let's make a deal".

But love is a deal, too, my friend,
more complex than a battlefield end.
In fact, that field can fester
with sly, self-conscious gestures.

Better to leave love to the brave,
those who rout short circuits, and rave
about your ideals to the pews
populated by new age crews.

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