Tuesday, September 16, 2008

An up and down Monday

Yes, I know it's Tuesday. I'm late posting again.

But yesterday was a rollercoaster. Given current events around the world, a kiddy rollercoaster, but I definitely needed to fasten my seat belt.

First, the ups:

In The New York Times, a lovely piece about the artwork (collages!) of John Ashbery.

Then, reading The Complete Poems of Edwin Denby. Consider this, from "Venice" in the Mediterranean Cities collection:

She opens with the gondola's floated gloze

Oh, I could be right there. I am there. Oh, wait...

But then:

I was on the bike shuttle, pulling out the aforementioned volume of Denby, when this exceptionally cheerful and energetic couple boarded the shuttle. Seated in the middle of the van, one on each side, they proceeded to discuss everything—the pastry they were passing back and forth across the aisle, exercise ("After yoga, we should do something more hardcore. Yoga isn't really exercise. What is exercise?"), and whether they could actually find their bike helmets.

Did I mention it was Monday?

Meanwhile, I'm trying to wade through this Denby poetry that I found out later, when I read Ron Padgett's introduction, is challenging. It wasn't just me. And it wasn't the people prattling on endlessly next to me.

What a grouch! Which is why I didn't say anything, gently, to them. What would I say? I was not feeling gentle anyway. I was feeling intruded upon and embarrassingly grumpy.

As I rode from the shuttle stop to my office building, I wondered why I was getting so bent out of shape, and I thought about their conversations on exercise.

That's it!

As a poet, my training isn't on a bike or in a yoga studio or at the gym. My training is writing and READING, as much reading as possible. And public transportation, even the bike shuttle, is usually my best opportunity. My training was interrupted. Hence, the grinch.

Since that little ride, I've had good opportunity to delve deeper into the Denby. I'm feeling a little more flexed, a little more supple, a little more out of my league, but that's part of participating.

I've asked this before (I think), but I'll ask again: In poetry, how do you train?

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