David Fishkind recently asked “Are You Afraid of Politics?“, and a lot of people, myself included, chimed in. Since then I’ve realized I have much more to say on the subject.
I normally don’t think of politics in Democrat/Republican/presidential election terms. I’m registered as an independent, and I prefer to live my politics on a daily basis—which is why I don’t drive, buy organic food when I can, and support local businesses run by people I know, etc. But it would be damn foolish of me to not recognize that “the political is personal” (to invert a phrase), and that the gentle people elected to the state and federal levels regularly impact both my daily life and my career as a writer. Specifically:
Every Wednesday at 11 a.m. I have a two hour and forty-five minute poetry workshop with thirteen other students. We spend the first hour of every class discussing a book assigned to us weekly by the professor. Then we workshop seven poems, each student turning in a piece to be discussed every other class. Pretty simple.
This week something happened. We were workshopping a student’s poem. It was about something (I’ll just omit everything explicit about everyone and anything in this class) and followed a similar pattern to some other poems this particular student had turned in for critiquing. People started talking about the poem in the customary manner, which is pretty much everyone suggesting different cuts, extensions, and changes that need to be made.
Then something happened. I’ll preface this by saying that, without great exception, pretty much every student turns in the same poem every week. Subject matter and stuff alter a little bit, but approach and word choice and style all seem pretty constant.
Baby Hedgehogs and American Apparel Dogs by David Fishkind is self-described as an “epic poetic narrative,” which is what it is — if one considers one’s life since conception (“I was nothing and then I was two and then I was one”) to the present to be “epic,” a word hopefully employed by the 19 year old with a little sarcasm. It’s easily readable and generous in its candidness. There is a trend of hyper-aware self-conscious writing among younger (I use this word as a description of age, not qualifier) writers which is either the last course of irony, or its propagation. There is a difference between the self-consciousness behind, say, Notes from the Underground and Fishkind’s, the former being a philosophical device, the latter more of a collection of tweets. I don’t say this in derision, only to suggest that our recent technologies (iPhone, myspace, youtube, etc.) have altered our orientation with “the self.” But that’s okay. Fishkind describes autobiographical prosaic experiences (getting erections, going to museums, being in love) with refreshing stoicism met with thoughtfulness:
January 14th, 2010 / 2:23 pm