Oxygen

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Thomas Bak

They say that poetry is a dying art and yet within me it is a source of all life.

As many of you know I am planning to publish a book of poetry in the, fingers-crossed, near future. Naturally I have been analyzing the demographics of my readers, at least those readers who have expressed genuine interest in my work. At my main site Mindlovemisery I have a responsive audience for which I am immensely grateful. When I submit poems to other sites (not specific to poetry) I get crickets with the occasional “I don’t understand so I can’t comment.” It makes sense that people who write poetry are the primary consumers of poetry books but I am still saddened that so few non-writers read poetry. As far as writer’s go I suppose I am rather abstract in presentation, a consequence perhaps of my wavering consciousness. A lot of people comment that I am ghost-like, ethereal, not of this world. You can apparently spend so much time lost in daydreams that you become, yourself, totally implausible. I am okay with the fact that I am not mainstream but I must still consider the possibility that my poetry lacks clarity and relatability. Can I create poems that envelop the soul? How do I harness my metaphors?

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My WordPress readership is pretty diverse, all things considered, but can my poems be appreciated without a translator? Personally I love to hear the various interpretations of my work, that each person walks away holding a piece of themselves. That said I don’t want my poems to be so self-indulgent and convoluted that nothing whatsoever can be extracted from them. If I passed my poems out on the tram how many people would save them? 

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14 responses

  1. Yves, the issue for me quite often, and this is just my opinion, is that your poetry is so vibrant in imagery that not everyone can wrap there heads around it. Not everyone sees the world as you do. Your unique view is wonderful, there are people who will buy your work. I will. In many ways your own style is what is important, you could dumb it down but then it wouldn’t be you, would it. Stick with who you are, not everyone on the train will keep your work, but some will. Its like not everyone will buy your anthology, those who are drawn to your poetry will lap it up.
    Produce work that reflects you, its the genuineness of your words that will attract readers and hopefully buyers.

  2. I honestly believe this is the situation for all of us, even tho someone elses poem may be more “understandable”, more cattering and mild in the imagery.
    If one has to have everything decyphered, it is no good they read poetry. Poetry, and ESPECIALLY YOURS, beckons one to travel inside their own soul, heart, mind and check their own pulse. It leaves an imprint and changs and it never needs a blunt translation – it needs to reader to REALLY read it.

  3. You often include art with your poems — a visual expression of at least part of the essence of what you write.
    A friend of mine, the poet, has joined with a friend of his, the artist, and are working on an illustrated book (perhaps I’ve mentioned this already?). It started as the poet asking the artist to interpret his words with art, now, the artist is asking the poet to interpret his work with words.
    Could you use photographs (and art should you have an artist friend) to give people another entry into your poetic world?
    As to responses from other places: my blog initially was about chronic pain and illness and then more so mental health. When I write about those feelings “poetically,” people within those communities can relate more directly. Not that your poetry is of/for a particular community, but if your poem comes from, say, a mental health prospective — folks with mental health issues will “get it” more, no matter how abstract the poetry may be.
    People don’t realize that music lyrics are poetry, as is rap, poetry slams, etc. Poetry is all around us; people just don’t see/hear it. And, “we” have been taught that poetry is esoteric, of the past, rhymes, has no meaning in the modern world, that is has a certain form and shape, etc.
    Life is poetry — so don’t worry if folks don’t “get it.” Maybe some day they will. There are enough who will (and I hate to say it but marketing matters!), and I wonder about making your poetry which is so evocative and powerful interactive somehow — an e-book with links and so on.
    Other published poets, like some of your readers, and others that I know of from the net might have some interesting comments, advice, observations to make.

    • There is a photographer who just started following me and I feel our work would work well together. Anja has offered to art for my haiku book. I find a lot of people with Depression, Bipolar, and Asperger’s Syndrome do read my blog but so far when I share my poems off WordPress no one seems to be able to interpret them in any way whatsoever. Granted I haven’t tried sharing them in other poetry forums but like if I wrote a poem about Epilepsy and posted it at an Epilepsy forum I must well be speaking ancient Egyptian. If I talk about Epilepsy they know exactly and I can relate to what they say but I must be losing something very critical when I write poetry.

  4. I will buy your work. It’s astonishing, vibrant, sophisticated in its wordsmithery (I made that word up), and from the heart. It’s idiosyncratic. No one writes like you do, and that should be celebrated. Uniqueness is GOOD in today’s jaded, factory-pressed-consumer culture.

    And I hear you on the “crickets” thing. I recently uploaded a second poem to my poetry blog, and I drew attention to that in all the right places… and, yeah, nothing. It’s still early days for me yet, but I can appreciate how disheartening it can be. I think my biggest audience is probably going to be others who write poetry (and only then if they’re not laughing at how simplistic mine is!).

    Anyway, my two cents. 🙂

    • Awww thank you Tony by all means make up words lol When I started out at WP it was slow going for me as well. Others seem to start out and within a few months they had hundreds of followers and lots of feedback did not happen for me like that. Have no idea how people pull that off. I had to interact and participate A LOT being socially awkward I probably messed up many times trying to talk to others too because as I’ve found out my awkward doesn’t disappear just because I am on the computer and have more time to think lol

  5. I think basic explanations are worthwhile, esp on the abstract pieces. They help the reader connect with you. And the explanation can be vague enough to give them an idea without getting into TMI. Its about balance.

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