When it comes to kneejerk pop-culture responses, I’m wrong more often than I’m right.
That’s a tough truth to swallow, but the spoonful of sugar that makes the medicine go down is, finding out I’m wrong usually leads to the discovery of some vast, untapped resource of awesome for me to explore.
Allow me to explain.
When I was but a metal-minded kid, I thought the speed and volume with which a guitarist played was indicative of said guitarist’s talent. Then I happened across the intricate jangle-pop of Peter Buck and Johnny Marr, and suddenly, my music world got a whole lot bigger. (And yeah, my eardrums are still thanking me.)
A decade or so ago, when buzz started building about the writing going on at this hokey-looking teeny-bopper show with some seriously iffy special effects about a cheerleading vampire-slayer, I rolled my eyes. I mean, some disposable Young-Hercules-style schlockfest based on a largely forgotten flick that aimed for midnight-movie and missed? No thanks. But then late one night, when flipping through the channels (remember when folks still did that?), my wife and I caught the back half of an episode of Buffy without realizing what it was, and we were hooked. Now I’m convinced it’s one of the best series in the history of the medium.
My opinions on poetry, though, were made of tougher stuff than that – or so I thought. I mean sure, I dug The Odyssey, but who didn’t? And yeah, T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land was one of the prettiest things I’d ever read. And let’s not forget Dante – his Divine Comedy remains one of my all-time favorite reads, and in fact played a major role in the genesis of DEAD HARVEST. But modern poetry? Modern poetry, I felt certain, was Simply Not My Thing.
Then Gerald So and cohorts started publishing beautiful, hard-hitting poems in print via The Lineup, and online at The 5-2. So, plate full of crow and humble pie, I once more happily changed my mind. That’s why when Gerald asked me to participate in his 30 Days of the 5-2 blog tour – in honor of National Poetry Month (which you totally knew it was, right?) – I of course said yes. It’s a great chance to showcase some fantastic writing – the kind of writing that might change some hearts and minds (provided those hearts and minds are as malleable and wrongly prejudiced as were mine). Writing like Stephen D. Rogers’ Reminder, which appeared on The 5-2 in November of last year:
While sweeping the porch
My broom handle hits
The outdoor chimes
Ding, dong, cling, clang
Dropping me into the rocker
Sadly in need of repair
Letting the broom
Thunk against the rail
She always slapped the chimes
When she came home
If her assailant did the same
It must have been
The last happy sound she heard
Tell me that didn’t hit you square in the chest. It did me. What strikes me about Stephen’s piece is how, in a span of fifty-seven words, he manages to conjure great depth of emotion – not to mention tell a complete story. I’m lucky if I can pull that off in five thousand.
Some writing I admire because it looks like mine, only nicer. Some I admire because it accomplishes something I cannot do.
I’m no poet. But it turns out, I’m glad they’re out there.