1/6/15

Jazz and Poetry . . .

I decided, at the ripe old age of 12, that I "hated" poetry. I am not entirely sure what did it for me. I think it was sitting in English class and reading e.e. cummings' poem . . .

l(a
le
af
fa
ll
s)
one
l
iness

and thinking "what a load of crap". If you're not as deep, profound, and pensive as the average poetry lover (and poor you if you're not - they are better than us) the poem reads "A leaf falls. Lonliness." Apparently the layout of the text is meant to imply a leaf fluttering to the group and the "L" one its own between "one" and "iness" is meant to imply that we, as "one" are always alone. Yeah. That's deeeeep, man.

I wrote, I swear, in my notebook "A leaf falls. Get a rake."

Sure, sure, I loved Shel Silverstein and most nursery rhymes, lyrics to Celene Dion songs, etc. THAT is poetry. A nice A-B rhyme scheme, patterns, clear and implied meaning at every turn. Yep. That makes me simple. I'm fine with that.

Know what else I decided I hated not long after? Jazz music. Ugh. JAZZ music, Get you a black turtleneck and a clove cigarette and a goatee (not even an ironic one - and earnest one) and you are made for jazz. You can say things like "lick" and "riff" with ease. The tunes in your ears just sort of meander about. No form. Flow. Improv. Simplicity in complexity.

What do poetry and prose poetry have in common? Just about everything.

I've actually tried to figure out why I disliked these art forms (I am typically a great fan of any art or expression - even when it is not to my tastes or subjective views) and why so many others loved them almost to spite me. Three theories bubbled up . . .

  1. I was, despite my desire to the contrary, a left brain (we want to think that creativity and freedom live in the left side of the brain but that is reserved for order and rules) thinker. 
  2. I was not old/mature/established enough to grasp freeform expression or the emotion in it.
  3. That stuff is just garbage that no one should like.
For 25 or so years I've held tight to the belief that the third is the only possible answer to my disdain for artistic channels so otherwise beloved. I was sure of it. I've been creative (enough) over the decades to hang my hat on the right cornder of the dusty, spiderwebbed corner of my skull). I have continued to age and mature and understand more and more parts of the world that once eluded my grasp. This must be the fault of poems and brass instruments and brushed percussion.

Yet. Here I am. 38 years old and giving things another try and a fresh set of eyes and ears and, by the Jeepers, I'm loving them both. 

Jazz? Fantastic stuff (some of it - a good percentage of that garbage should still be piled and burned). Poetry? Even better (again - I see why books are banned and burned when I read some prose - even that which comes on high regard). 

Both allow so much more opportunity to put your own perspectives and experiences and thinking and longing in to them than I had ever given them credit for. You just need more right brain than left.