Friday, February 18, 2005

Naomi Nye

I'm headed off to Austin in April to attend the Austin International Poetry Festival (AIPF), and one of my favorite contemporary poets is going to be featured! Naomi Nye writes wonderful little poems that are themselves first. That's the mantra of my poetic existence: poems should be themselves first. I hope my skills and poems will have the same quality of her work someday, and maybe even a shard of her recognition. Yes, I know she probably differs with me on politics, but those who know me also know there are precious few (probably none) that don't.

On the business of poems being themselves first, I've written a poem that summarizes my sentiments. It springs from my frustrations with poets who write about things rather than writing things. Writing about politics produced some of the lamest poems I've read or heard. Who remembers poetry about Benjamin Disraeli? Do today's poets think poems about Bush, Rumsfeld, and Ashcroft will last a century? Poems about the CIA, or "Cocaine Import Agency," according to one particular wannabe are wearing just as thin. For the most part, I can even recognize quality in their styles (well maybe not the anti-CIA poser, he was such a dork), but why should I read them? Predictable, identical cookie-cutter poems about how much so and so wants a random political officer to go to the afterlife of the poet's choosing just are not good literature; please find something else to write about! Shakespeare rode Petrarch pretty hard in his sonnets, but I have to believe that somewhere the Bard is vomiting all over today's activist poetry, and wishing, nay, begging for more sonnets written of Laura.

"cercar non so ch'Amor non venga sempre
ragionando con meco, et io con lui."

"I know not how to seek where love will not always find me
reasoning with me, and I with him."

If only we still had you, Petrarch.


The flow of words is wonderful!
If I could only dip my cup in its bounty . . .

I would be strong
and beautiful
and maybe, just maybe
they'd all see who I am
Through the letters on the page

When I write, I’m free
Each thought emancipated
from expectations without and within

The unwritten rules are written
In passions, unbridled, taking shape
As my infamy releases
Each word to be misunderstood
And mangled at the tip of a critic’s pen

Some poems are born of sentiment
Others born from inebriation
Or sweet infatuation
Set in motion by the ocean
Always blue in verses
But all too often brown, salty, and flooded
Like my eyes.

Too many words are born of common intrests
Fueled by expectations
Too easily met
By more of the same blank noise

They say:
This is a poem about love
This is a poem about peace
This is a poem about justice
This is a poem about opportunity
This is a poem about pride

This is a poem
Until the word “poem”
Means nothing at all

The bounty of words Is there for the taking
By the true
By the passionate
By the strong
By the beautiful

And rarely by the poets who write about

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