Slamming, (and I don't mean poetry)

I just opened my mail to a note from one of my friends, a fine poet. She was flying high from a recent gig back East. Then she happened upon a couple of blogs about the event. In both, her reading style was ridiculed, and she is devastated. 

I told her that in my experience, many use their blogs to affect a smug, erudite literary pose.  They want to make themselves look smart because there is always someone smarter than they are, to impress.  They are still in an adolescent mode. 

Once, after performing at a poetry festival in Ojai with a drummer/singer I accidentally came upon a blog like those described above. The blogger spoke through her nose (yes, I could see her indignant nose hairs) and said my performance was ridiculous and made her laugh. According to her I had written and performed only one "real" poem. Okay...she's entitled to her opinion. And, like my friend, I was devastated, for a few minutes, then I got angry. And I'm ashamed to say, I gave in, and wrote to her (something you should never do...let them stew in their own nastiness). I questioned her purpose. I asked her how she would feel if she came upon the same description about herself. When she wrote back a bewildered note, I realized I wasn't a person to her. I let it go. As I write this I remember that I don't even remember her name. And I learned to wait a day at least when hearing or reading anything upsetting before taking action. It takes at least one revolution of the sun at least to help bring clarity before action, unless you're on the battlefield, then it's one revolution of a heartbeat, or less. 

These blogs remind me of "slam" books. (This isn't the same as "poetry slam".)Women of my generation will remember the notebooks that were sent around the classroom the same direction as the note circuit. (This was junior high, for me.) I was an energetic note writer and cartoon maker. There was a page for each student. Each of us wrote comments. Most were complimentary,  like "cool", "sweet girl", "friend forever". Others "slammed" the reputation of the student. The comments could be devastating. And why? Why does anyone "slam" anyone else? Because of difference, uniqueness, jealousy, envy, insecurity and so on and so on, all the human social ills that appear not to have been touched by the "development" of the so-called "highest civilization"called the Western world. Meanness is meanness, even if it's dressed in ruffled and silk words.

What I've noticed is that educational decrees don't necessarily connote wisdom. The ability to spout back terms, theories, historical and scientific facts doesn't make one wise, or a poet. I've seen this over and over in my years of teaching and being a poet. A heavy intellect with no heart can translate as massacres, loneliness, warped relationships. The heart,too, needs the  rudder of the mind.

So, I told my friend. Stay strong and don't give anymore of your attention to assholes. Their words reflect their own poor spirits. 

And go write your own blog!

1 comment:

sharanya said...

Thank you, Joy. I agreed with every word you said. I've been there too, and over time I have learnt two things: to never Google oneself and to never pay too much attention to what one sees written about oneself when we do come across it, and to always take a moment before writing about someone else, and spend that moment in their shoes.

This was the part that most resonated: "When she wrote back a bewildered note, I realized I wasn't a person to her." In the blogosphere, a person becomes reduced to their name. Like many things about technology, that which connects people also seems to distance us.