social poetry

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apples, etc.—a practice at social poetry

Blessed he

who hears the lilt

in telling songs of birds.

I am but wholly deafened, but

I am made

of only words—

When I was a little girl, having been bullied and shunned, and somewhat, well, dramatic, I used to run home after school and bury my head in two things: the neck of my pet dog, and books. We needn’t speak here of the virtue of dogs. They are loyal, giving, affectionate, true and innocent. But what of the nature of books? What of the nature of words? Imagine then a bright-but-awkward child staggering towards “Little Women” or “Hamlet” or a Dickens novel. Presumably by all accounts if you are reading this, you were one at one time. Maybe you have one who is one who is your own. And I was. One, that is. Struck and oversensitized by the world’s noises and children’s seemingly unending cruelty I would scan the pages religiously, searching with fervor—something. Even before I knew what the symbols meant, I knew they had a magic in them. I prodded my mother—a teacher—to teach me how to read early on. In two languages. She took on the challenge. She told me later it was because a famous professor said that reading poems in meter to children could improve their chances at maths later on. I’m very bad at maths, but when I deciphered finally the symbols, I found what I was looking for...I found it over and over again as I looked, I found it over and over again as I grew up, in poetry more than in prose as I leapt in height and understanding, the deep hummings of agreements between the critics of poetry, I found it in the lines of Keats, I found it in the words of Yeats, I found it in the writing of Leonard Cohen, in scraps and pieces of used books I would find on the street. I found it and devoured it and from the fuel it gave me I created--songs and limericks at first and then poems and prose, not as if I were some mastermind manifesting perpetual motion of the lyrics from zero energy, defying the laws of thermodynamics; but as a vessel, a machine, words gave me life and life gave me more words. And I wrote and I wrote and my world became words and words.

Often I see others, even those close to me, perceive words as necessary tool. Written words more than spoken ones are an enemy, because reading Shakespeare and Frost is what you do at school, not at home. Even people I know who love poetry treat words as a tool; a tool by which to submit a message. Beautiful and sacred, lovely words, but only those, as what they are. It is difficult for me to explain to them that in my world, words are the atoms that make up every notion of every single thing. The music that I drive to, screaming at the top of my lungs; the photographs I take of my niece and nephews, capturing another second in their race towards becoming bigger and bigger; the drawing my mother labours upon and how it soothes her, the lines long and short. It’s the smart show on TV, the brilliant article in the paper, it’s the stunning river in winter, the park at summertime, the dizzy spell when you breathe too fast, too hard, the racing of the heart when the one you love comes near you, the sketching of homes and of whole new neighbourhoods, and your bodies in bed, and the rain outside. That’s all words. That’s all poetry. That’s all us.

I want to show you my world. It’s a beautiful one. What are we doing here? APPLES, ETC. and Gili Estlin Hirsch are trying to create a brand new, bold kind of art by infusing modern and classical original poetry with main elements from the mediums of visual art and music; so that the poem exists on all three realms, together, as one. Poets, musicians, painters, photographers, working together, to create not a poem to music or to an image, but rather images, songs that ARE poetry. The comfort and holiness of words with the immediacy and rhythm of visual and auditory art. You can see it, hear it, move to it; you can dance, cry, love, hold to it, you can read it, again and again, or only just one time. It’s rap and slam, it’s pop and folk, it’s lyrical and epic and free verse, it’s a painting, it’s a photograph, it’s an object, it has a life, a spirit. It will reflect you so you will see yourself in it and inspire you to alter. It will wrap you up in the darkest and best moments. It will underscore the breathtaking.

Forget shelves. I hate shelves. They’re too flawed for something as holy as Everything; just like us, they break when things are too heavy, and cannot contain the power of beauty unless they buck at their knees to surrender. Which is why poetry belongs in us, and not on them. Not shut tight in a book and separate from the world. How sad that is. How silly. How much more could it be. Look at the spines of your books now, lovers of words. Imagine your favourite word sliding gently under your skin, entering you. Entering your blood. Imagine swaying softly to your favourite phrase, crying at the image of a poem. That’s what we want to do. Come with us.