this is a space for artists & poets of all different media to present works & to express ideas, comments, scraps, notes, rants, statements on anything & in any way they please. I wanted to have a space where artists & poets from all different points of view, styles, cultures, can present & discuss, comment on, each other's works. To encounter the works of other artists & poets in a freedom of existence and exchange, and to learn a lot and have a good time, too!
The name "Nos Obras Otros"indicates the works are a shared "Other" of each artist, an Other without any limitations or labels imposed.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Shoot from the hip rant-rave response to "poetry brothel"

I had responded to an ad at Dorianne Laux's FACEBOOK notes; it read as follows:

The Poetry Brothel Source:

"The Poetry Brothel is the first event of its kind to seduce New York City. A new and dreamlike twist on a poetry reading, The Poetry Brothel is foremost interested in the presentation of excellent, original literature."

I wrote, "Why would anyone want to 'seduce' a city, much less NYC?

What's ORIGINAL about a sensationalistic term like 'poetry brothel?'

Isn't commercialism antithetical to 'poetry?'

Just some thoughts... :) 'Poetry Brothel' is a thought-worthy concept..."

One writer/reader, Tad Richards, took offense (or took the bait... God knows I was being quite mischievous):

"Why would anyone not want to?

Why can something not be both sensationalistic and original? Neither antithetical nor identical. Poetry doesn't exist in a vacuum; it requires an audience, and an audience requires some sort of marketing. That's poetry -- I can't comment on 'poetry.'"

I took a little offense of my own (or took good Tad's bait):

"Dear Tad, sorry I could not reply until now. FACEBOOK is blocked at my factory.

Some thoughts:

Poetry no more requires an audience than zen meditation, praying, biking, painting, sewing, sowing, woodwork, philosophy, peeing, eating, sex, and myriad other disciplines, practices, spiritual pursuits, and explorations of nature or psyche require audience. Television requires audience. Politicians require audience. Grade school art exhibits in the mall require audience. Grade school teachers bucking for advance in their careers require audience. In an age when our loudest cultural malaise has 'narcissism' writ large all over it, why would one of the most sacred and long-standing Best Thot Arts lower itself to one almighty standard, GARNERING AUDIENCES?

Okay, fine, there's no reason that 'poetry' should not welcome, appreciate, and even relish 'audiences,' but I myself would like to put at least one vote in for the other side of 'poetry,' whereby the whole notion of 'audience' is surely not foregrounded, whereby the whole notion of 'audience' is even, in fact, essentially heretical.

And as for 'both sensationalistic and original,' well, Now, THAT is, yes, IS, a first rate and novel idea -- a poetry both 'sensationalistic' AND 'original,' but surely you mean that its originality would satirize (or parody) Sensationalistic poetries that concern themselves with garnering 'audiences' first and foremost, Yes? Other than that, 'sensationalism' IS still, as it has been throughout the history of human cultures, a lowly, narcissistic cheap thrill fairly and squarely antithetical to Truth and true Beauty, Yes?

Poetry doesn't exist in a vacumn? Surely, you have more original strings of words for defending your concepts of poetry -- 'exist in a vacumn.'

In any event, there's good energy here if you have the stomach for it, though I suspect you'd prefer to kill off such discussion. Personally, my own view and concept of 'poetry' is that it should/would engender the deepest, rawest, most passionate, most authentic, most genuinely VULNERABLE, least marketable cross-contamination of thought, something akin to high quality Group Therapy. I do not agree that 'poetry' must be 'provocative,' necessarily (that term too is histrionic and sensationalistic NOW), but surely most of the best real poetry IS [provocative], if only at least in the fact that what is worthwhile almost always has freed itself from such cheap cliches as 'brothel.' And I do believe that what is worth writing and what is worth reading does not in any way require an audience.

Do you require an audience when you sit down in solitude to reread poetry that ever delights you, ever enlightens you, ever turns you on to mental activity that transforms you? Do you require an audience when you set down on paper writing that you felt compelled to get on paper as much as you needed to breathe or laugh or eat? With or without any hope of ever being read, didn't you have to write that down anyways?

Poetry Brothels... Who are the sluts and pimps and johns and cops and what is the gonorrhea, syphilis, despair, abuse, enslavement, degeneracy, mysogyny, exploitation, heartache, misery, ugliness of such 'social' festivity, just extend the metaphor a tad further, Tad. Who profits and what profits from such degradation of what is now today essentially ALL MARKETING and SELLING and PROSTITUTION and PROFIT and LOSS and PEDESTRIAN ECONOMICS? Overpaid academics plugging another artificial feather in their resume caps by which to accumulate greater pensions from students they know damn well will never be able to get a fucking dime back from the adsurdly inflated tuition costs that Big Business EDUCATION charges entire generations who will never be able to afford their parents' and grandparents' real estate in a society that will be struggling just to rescue humankind from global warming?

Poetry Brothels... How much does it cost to get laid in such a grand poetry? Personally, I have never had any difficulty getting screwed, so I have never gone to ANY kInD of brothel. And, frankly, I am NOT so dearly attached to any kind of notion that 'Poetry' can or should serve fantastically noble purposes, either (though tomorrow I will argue that it do just that, I'm sure). It simply, probably cannot, and it probably should not, be thought responsible for the healing of ailing and dying cultures. (OR NOT!) Indeed, some of the best poetry I know and love simply makes me snort and howl and giggle, does, and needs to do, nothing more than that.

So I am just pointing out what I believe is a very simple and obvious point: If such and such a 'poetry' is so damn important to the poets who produced it or to the consumers who will consume it that the promoters of such profound verse feel compelled to use sensationalistic terms like that produced by the shamelessly commercial coupling of 'poetry' with 'brothel' (wow, I'm fucking titillated now!), then I for one am completely turned off, even disgusted and enraged, and I'm going to register a humble but firm protest against such shameless narcissistic marketing and product. I for one reject this product and consumable and wish not to buy it.

Indeed, I rather wish that all the little titty bars on your side of Poetry Town could be converted into Education Centers where the johns and the pimps and the proprietors could learn a trade, get a life, and develop consciousness that would lead them to get their SEX, as well as their delirious temporal respite from emptiness and boredom, in healthier, more genuinely satisfying and emotionally mature ways.


  1. enjoyed your rant STEVE.

  2. Thank you, Christine! :)

    (Yeah, I certainly think that there's such a thing as remaining TOO MUCH "on the grid," as it were, or maybe working too much, even if unconsciously, to CONTROL the frigging grids, which usually moves you and me and like-minded pomers OFF THE GRID, and you know what I'm saying...)

    :) Steve