Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Everybody Got Trouble

We've had an interesting few days here at Castle Grim. The phone-line went down, we've had new doors fitted, I got locked out of my own house for hours because there was only one key and my flatmate had it (she'd gone off to enjoy herself somewhere...) But I think normality is now being restored at last...

I was reading this morning an autobiographical piece by Anne Waldman from her book called Kill or Cure, a piece with the title Feminfesto, in which she suggested that it shouldn't be beyond the possibility that a woman should have a gay personality, or a man have a lesbian one. Which puts me in man of comedian Eddie Iszard, who once claimed to be a lesbian in a man's body...

However, it also made me think about my own penchant for writing by people with "queer" sexualities. Somehow, I seem to have been attracted to writing by gay men (Frank O'Hara, James Schuyler, John Ashbery) or men who hung around gay men (Kenneth Koch), or lesbians (Elizabeth Bishop.) Big macho writing somehow puts me off; even Charles Olson's "Lordly and Isolate Satyrs" (bikers) just makes me want to gag.

There's two things that I don't like. There's the macho thing: look at how rough and ready and gritty and tough my writing is. I've never much gone in for the Bukowski style of writing, with its "down to earth" feel. I like artifice, beautiful language even if I don't know what it means. If there's a bit of style about its use, I don't object to rhyme that much either. I love Byron's Don Juan - another poet of dubious sexuality.

The other thing I don't like much is purity. I know that in certain circles, the Objectivists are revered - all those spare, honest, true poems that are so spare, honest and true you want to throw a spanner at them. I mean, get a sense of humour, put on a bit of slap! Don't get me wrong, George Oppen, Cid Corman, etc are all very good - and Neidecker is brilliant. But then I read O'Hara, or laugh out loud at one of Ashbery's seemingly throw-away one-liners, and it seems like I'm back in the real world again, where people tell jokes and drink good wine and go to coffee-bars.

Susan Sontag wrote about camp in the sixties, and I wondered if it was that. I don't think I've a gay bone in my body (well, maybe the little finger of my left hand; I think it likes Barbara Streisand) but I don't like purity. I like music that mixes things up, collage, the kind of post-punk that mixes dance with rock (Talking Heads, Blondie), poetry that's inbetween high-modernist and mainstream. I can't entirely take myself seriously; after all, I'm a poet ("here I am, the centre of all beauty! Imagine!" as Frank would say.) Today I was playing Bill Frisell's album The Willies, mixing country music and jazz.

But heck, maybe it's just post-modernism.

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