This VerseDay VerseNovels.com welcomes a guest blogger, Australian verse novelist and poet, Tim Sinclair. Also visit Marci Atkins’s blog for her VerseDay post, a printable annotated Haiku booklist. Sounds intriguing!
Take it away, Tim:
First, let me address the elephant in the room. That big fluffy pink elephant, with its chocolate heart and rose petal blood, holding a giant bunch of helium balloons declaring undying love to the cliché. Yep. Luv is all around.
I’m not a fan, you may have noticed. I find the whole thing weird. In Australia we don’t have it quite so bad, but I think we’re catching up to the USA in the schmaltz stakes.
Did I say weird? Sorry, I meant gross. Not just in the obvious and exploitative way that genuine sentiment is mined for its commercial potential, but in the disservice that the day does to actual love. Warts-and-all, fart-in-front-of-you, stand-beside-you-when-we’re-old-and-crumbly love. The real stuff.
And coupled with the devotion to plastic love is the devotion to godawful ‘poetry’. I love that poetry is still held in high enough regard that people turn to it at times of high occasion. Births, deaths, marriages. Inaugurations even. People have no problem picking the good stuff for these events. It was wonderful to watch Richard Blanco last month, reading his poem “One Today” to an audience of millions.
Love is not simple, easy, or greeting-card-able. Love is the 50 years after the credits roll on the romcom. It’s messy, dirty, sad, joyous, fulfilling, draining, simple and convoluted all at once. And when you try to squash it onto a greeting card, when you run it through the Valentine Filtration Device, what gets left out is the noise and dirt. Anything and everything that’s real. What you’re left with is the sweet sickly syrup of sentimentality.But love – which is surely up there on the High Occasions list of human experience – is what seems to let people down when picking the poetry. Roses, violets, rhyming couplets, baby baby baby. It’s a crime.
Nick Cave – who surely has the credentials to speak with authority about the messiness of love – says in his 1999 lecture “The Love Song” that any song that purports to be a love song and yet doesn’t mention fear or hate or pain, is, in fact, a ‘hate song’, for omitting all the nuance and the depth.
“ [The love song is] the cry of one chained to the earth, to the ordinary and to the mundane, craving flight; a flight into inspiration and imagination and divinity.”
We’re human. We have limitations. But through finding love, through developing that love from first passion to something extraordinary and enduring and powerful, we can transcend. And that is what makes love poetry, the real stuff, so extraordinary. Poetry has the capacity to transcend everyday language, to express all of love. So this Valentine’s Day (and for that matter, every day), just say no to greeting-card poetry, and wallow in the real stuff.
I’ll leave you with an excerpt from another of master-of-messiness, Raymond Carver, from his poem “This word love”.
“But this word love –
this word grows dark, grows
heavy and shakes itself, begins
to eat, to shudder and convulse
its way through this paper
until we too have dimmed in
its transparent throat and still
are riven, are glistening, hip and thigh, your
loosened hair which knows
Tim’s doing a VerseDay Giveaway! The first 5 people to follow Tim on Twitter, and tweet him the word ‘dictionary’ will receive a DRM free E-copy of Tim’s latest collection, ‘Re:reading the dictionary‘. Tim also has a new book coming out later this year – a verse novel called RUN. If someone is a Goodreads librarian can they add it please!?