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.