a dark & tasty blog by kl pereira

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Remember the words.

I've been silent for a week.

Last weekend, my favorite and arguably one of the fiercest voices in poetry passed away.

The world hardly stopped. This was barely news to most folks it seemed.

But for me, I found I couldn't speak about it. It's ironic really, the kind of irony that makes you realize that you're not as far along as you thought (in whatever terms you want to live or try to live your life as an artist who speaks). I couldn't find words that fit together, words that expressed anything, really. I couldn't even think about how this really made a difference in my life, in all our lives. I guess I worried that it wouldn't.

Yet she's haunted me all week. All week I've lingered over her, wondered how I could measure a voice, its impact, its power. And I've found that it's impossible, at least for me. I can't begin to quantify it and I suspect that I never will.

Last week, Ai passed away at the age of 62. If you Google her, "Artificial Intelligence" still pops up until the very bottom of the page. The New York Times only posted an obit yesterday (and then in the Books section) and only a handful of folks (among them one of my favorite poets, Mark Doty) have lamented or acknowledged her death and her life.

It astounds me. How can a person who has had (and I'm sure will continue to have) such a huge impact on me as both an artist and a person, be forgotten before she is even remembered? My good friend and lit blog maven, Anna Clark posted on Ai's death and then days later posted again, lamenting the fact that the world did not take notice. Death didn't stop for her and we didn't either.

Why? And why do I care? Ai, it seems, certainly didn't care what anyone thought of her. By all accounts (I never had the good fortune to meet her), she was a force of individuality that lived her own way. She didn't seem to need us to remember her, and yet, I am devastated that we didn't. That we don't. Her poems, (she wrote exclusively in dramatic monologue)the words she put into the world are something else. I don't think I want to live in a world where we don't remember the words. Even when the person has faded from memory and we barely recall their lives on this plane of existence, the words, the words are the thing that can never fade.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Deadly Departed Dear

My friend and fellow poet, Kat Good-Schiff and I have a tradition. Every year around Spring we visit the graves of our favorite poets together. We bring food and drink and read poems to the dead.

This tradition started three years ago when Kat visited me and I brought her to my favorite place in the whole world: Forest Hills Cemetery. Besides being the most serene landscape I've ever seen, it is also the resting place of the body of Anne Sexton, a poet whose has been crucial to my development as an artist and a woman. Each year, we visit Anne and read her amazing poems full of passion and hope. Along the ledges of her gravestone are piles of lime and pudding stones, acorns and scraps of weathered parchment. Offerings to a woman who could not have known what impact she had (or would have) on the world before she departed it.

We've also visited Emily Dickinson. At Emily's grave there is a small, wind-splintered box where visitors drop notes, poems, and wishes to the "grandmother" of American poetry.

These visits make me remember: who I am and why I do what I do. To live on that edge and to speak to what needs to be seen and spoken. To hold dear what will never die.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

One word makes all the difference.

I've been trying to crack the slippery carapace of what I knew were going to be some bright jewels of poems.

Almost all of them, save two, have gone through at least 10 drafts (which is actually quite a low number--I'm normally in the 20s or 30s). There were two particularly hard stones that shined in some places and were cloudy and dull in others. I had the concept, the rhythm, the music. But something CRUCIAL was missing. I wrote around it, I expanded and expounded. I fretted and worried at my keyboard. It didn't help.

I decided that I needed another set of eyes that would maybe, hopefully spark on something that I had overlooked, some speck of black that was really a diamond inside (or a split and dripping fig, or a pat of melted butter).

I handed over one of the stones and was given a word. That word was what I was missing. It unfastened the belt, pulled down the zipper, exposed the gleaming belly of my poem.

There's no better feeling in my world that to know you've got it and you've got it good.

If you're interested in hearing the poem I'm referring to, come to Grub Gone...Blue on Friday night or stay tuned...it just might appear on the Interwebs sometime soon.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Sin on Skin

So I'm getting a new tattoo.

Body art is something that I've long been obsessed with and the meanings that we put into our own skin (through ink or something deeper and more subconscious) is hard to shake.

I know what I want for a design (and I promise to post once I've got it) but I'm struggling with the words I want to put to it.

Here are some of my favorite quotes:

"I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,
as though I had wings."

"A gift, a love gift, utterly unasked for by the sky"

"Elbows, knees, dreams, goodnight"

"I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead. I lift my eyes and all is born again"

"I am I am I am"

Any thoughts? Suggestions? I'd love to hear them.