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Alter Egos - I Am Done Watching This

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Friday, October 06, 2006

Poetry and Large Crowds - It's Not My Thing

Cid and I have been sitting silently in his small home in Kyoto. I am finding it hard to breath - suffocated by poetry.

"Tell me Cid, what is it?"

"Everything is poetry for me. Just to share it with others, that's all. Really, I feel there's nothing that needs to be explained, or taught to anybody. So I write poetry that's really designed not for the usual readers. It's designed for everybody. For anybody: child, or people who have never read poetry before. In fact the best audience I ever had were nine-year-olds in San Francisco, who probably had never heard a poem before in their lives. Even the teacher, who was in her late twenties I think, had probably never heard poetry read before. And they were wonderful. One of the kids even quoted one of my poems back to me. And I didn't explain a word: I read sixteen poems from one of my little books -- the whole book. No introduction: I just read the poems to them -- no explanations -- and they were absorbed, it was obvious. It was perfect. My perfect audience: nine-year-olds, mixed group, half of them black. And I was invited because we were staying with a family friend, a doctor friend of ours, in San Francisco at the time, and the little girl... After supper I read them this little book, as a form of thank you; and the little girl, nine years old, said, "Will you read that, to my class?" And I said, "If the teacher says OK." And she did, so I went ahead and did it. That was the best reading I've ever had. It's the kind of reading I like. I often read one on one, which is my preference: I don't like large crowds, and I've never drawn large crowds -- it's not my thing, and I'm not really interested. Maybe on radio is perfect, because nobody was there, except sometimes another poet."

Reading alone to no one - maybe Cid was right about that. Maybe poets and large crowds just don't mix. Cid bowed out of the US at a point when he was quite famous - gave up the fame to become unknown. Wrote prolifically for no one at all except himself.

Read us another one Cid. Dead Beat continues to listen.

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