I used to think that the word “hootenanny” meant dance, and in some ways I suppose it does in that it can refer to a party, but it’s original meaning was simply referring to something one couldn’t remember the name to, or didn’t know in the first place.
We have become so engaged/disengaged electronically. Yes the computer is convenient and keeps me in touch regularly with those that I love and care for, but how truthful are our words through an electronic device? Have we stunted our growth by stunting our words?
Now we have this saying “don’t drink and text or email….” I think it was once called “don’t drink and dial”. What I’m getting around to saying is that I miss hand written letters. Even if they were once written on an old typewriter it was still somehow hand written because of the speed. One could not write and “send” immediately with a Smith Corona. Well, I guess they could but then they were probably written by a serial killer (or do serial killers prefer collages?) or didn’t care much for words in the first place. Thank goodness for carbon copies.
(Before you begin your critique, try using a fountain pen on beautiful paper…)
I began this blog because I could not communicate in a painting what I felt in my heart. Or if I did communicate it through oil, I would never be able to tell you what I truly felt. My first art show I named all my pieces after Miles Davis’s Kinda Blue. Why? Because someone told me that my paintings had to be titled, so I used all the tracks from the album. But what you see in my work may not be what I am trying to convey, and that is okay. I want people to feel what they want to feel with their own heart, and sight.
I’m certain there are young scholars around the world that love the beauty of words, and Victorian poetry or any poetry for that matter but I am also fairly certain they text message, and use email.
The beauty of our thoughts can be so eloquent, and dangerous, and with the immediacy of “modern” technology the art, and sincerity is lost. Yes, I’ve hand written and sent letters I should never have posted (with something called a stamp)…but I was in college and I think that was what we were supposed to be doing. Do I regret it? No.
I began this blog because I was tired of feeling ashamed of how I felt about what I saw around me. This is, or was my cross to carry (terrible reference but apt). I did not care who saw what I wrote, and it liberated me from whatever negative perception I had of myself. Do I care that you read? Yes, I care deeply and I thank you. But I did it so that I could embrace a part of me that I had lost. My love of beauty, romance, brutality of words, literature, art…I had lost it. I know why and how but I won’t share that just yet. Just try to imagine having a father who was/is a professor of Medieval Spanish Literature…it has some irony.
I will share that I am now unwilling to let fear take the helm of my life.
I am not a writer; I just enjoy the act of writing. Someone once said to me; “Keep a diary, you don’t have to ever read it again but keep one, and pull those thoughts out of your head, it’s therapeutic and it works.” I have found this to be true.
Recently I told (emailed 🙂 some friends that when the electricity goes out (and it will), how will we communicate if we do not know how to write, or express our hearts desires, and fears with a pen? You won’t be reading a Kindle I can assure you.
I’ve kept certain letters from my past because no matter the misspelled words or poor penmanship, I can hold them in my hand and know that once someone was thinking of me deeply when they wrote it. It was not written in 30 seconds and with a casual, unthinking, index finger pushed “send”.
(Yes, I threw away what I call my “hit man” letters from people who clearly wanted to hurt me, but their words are forever ingrained in my memory)
Poetry isn’t revered as much as it once was but I know one or two poets (alive) that can speak for me with imagery I could never paint. Scott Wannberg is a poet I admire. I bought his book Strange Movie Full Of Death last year because I remembered him from reading his “hootenanny” when I was in high school.
(By the by, I am fully aware that I could never have written this so quickly if I had used a pen…but I still know how.)
If you have gotten this far, I hope you will read Doorstop Of Love.
Doorstop Of Love
Put the cold wind in your back pocket
it wont be necessary for our little chat
humorous men and women are disappearing with alacrity
the parking tickets keep going up
the next dance supposedly was ours
but the bandleader gave us a very odd look
the doorstop of love allows the sun to enter
inhale that fresh air if it doesn’t make you sick
the cold mornings come and inevitably go
two strangers sharing body heat beneath the floodlights
what little it takes to upend the applecart
down here in the street everyone claims to be casanova
the way you enter a room
the way you sing those awful songs you bought into
makes my cantankerous ears actually listen
does anyone truly ever know anyone else?
every home is a potential missing persons office
the homeless orchestra sees us coming they pull their instruments out of the gutter
and begin to cut loose
in the deaf new morning of still one more day
that may or may not be kind to us
don’t hurt me, you say, i don’t want any more hurt
i’m no doctor, i say, but i will go slow
the statute of liberties eventually runs out
bring me your wounded and torn
the hearts pumping in the pawnshop windows
they will be redeemed soon
a lucid-enough idea man once claimed
the human race was an amphorous mess
we row our leaky canoe back and forth
across the life-sustaining water
there’s an island with our name on it
somewhere hidden in this fog
we’re damaged goods
in some kind of hootenanny rehab
when i touch you
the locked gate blows wide open
when you touch me
i remember how to move
the city is crowded with emergency rooms
full of lovers who slipped over each other’s feet
the nurses begin to sing our names
they must have been in on the rehearsal
put the war back in its box
it won’t need to sit in
we are nothing more than imperfect human beings
searching for the not-alone
it takes a long time sometimes to get there
sometimes alone is very persuasive
pour a shot of good single malt scotch
toast all infections leaving office
the king and queen of hope
will be coming downstairs soon
in this bed-and-breakfast of the soul
it’s table stakes from here on end.
Thank you Scott.
- Listen to This by Alex Ross (guardian.co.uk)
- Scott Wannberg, poet of Dutton’s was 58 (laobserved.com)