Jim Trainer

On Poetry

In Poetry on May 6, 2014 at 10:44 am

Perhaps this title is misleading. I’d rather talk about my life. Perhaps I am trying to say that poetry is life. That’ll do. Poetry is life.

But editing is a motherfucker.

Your work has impressed me. That is to say it has left an impression on me. This won’t be a critique of anyone’s work. Just some observations about my editing process and ultimately the truth about my relationship with my own work.
For my first read through of work submitted, I thought I’d have to be critical. Some work would have to be bad, so other work could be good, right? Well…poems written with economy and utility in mind-that is to say, works that had a simple message and used as simple a language as could be found, were the ones that passed first muster. Others, with perhaps a rough or messy message-a not immediately clear message-again, I was critical. It was on these poems that I’d move on&into the language and start editing from there. But instead I grew despondent when I made the connection and turned the editorial and critical eye upon myself. Me&my work.
And so came the heavy, barbed question-what makes my work good? And, also, thee dreaded and most hated: Is my work good?
To keep up with the publishing schedule on here, I had to reach for surefire, simple works of simple message and language. Those poems, such as the “orphaned triplets” of D.C. Bloom, work for a reason. They get in and at you, speak it, say their peace and peace out. There aren’t any rediscoveries or further unwrapping. They’re like a song, and a good friend. You know who they are and you can visit them.
The obtuse ones, they live and breathe on their own. Their meaning can unwrap and reveal itself even while not in their presence. You go back and pick at it some more. You can’t tell what it is that has grabbed you or even if they have grabbed you at all. It’s just that you’re back. And you’ve been thinking about them.
It’s also true that some work did all of these things. Some work gave a knotty message in a simple way. And some went to the extreme of simply saying their truth and, for one poem in particular by Amelia Raun, it was such a beautiful truth.

Is my work good?
Oh boy is that a can of fucking worms.

Through you and the beautiful work you’ve submitted, I really had to examine my relationship to my work and further question the value of the inner critic. And personally, I’ve had to reevaluate the function of my Art. My Art, once and always a salve, but then I whipped the bad blues so I had no more nights to put in there, in that cold building and as a dayworker of desperation. Of course I felt like I had to create all those years, in order to survive and transform, understand pain and use it-or, mulch it into bitterness and use that. But without blues, well shit-I almost needed a problem. And personally it would have to be HARD, right? Isn’t that so my Friend?
To be authentic I’d have to suffer? The work would have to be bled and I would have to bleed it out. Scrutinize. Procrastinate. Get drunk. Jerk off. Fuck her even though I said we should be friends.

Maybe.
I snapped out of it. Took off the critic’s hat and got back to the task at hand. Editing. And what, as Editor, did I discover?
My work is good. And so is yours.
There are things that have proven to be effective when executing an Art form such as poetry. Such as narrative, point of view and/or interplay of pronouns and etc. For me, all that should serve to bring it all back home and make it something memorable that another (your audience) can take in and appreciate.
Other than that, how could I judge, really?

Some are wordsmiths. Some have the soul of a poet. Some have the soul of a poet but perhaps could use a deepening of their relationship to words, or-further consideration of the general relationship to words.

Some poems I have sat on only to find they were sitting on me. And some,like the the love irons by J.J. Duval, just fucking floored me from the gate. Brother Charlie O’Hay knocked it out of the park. Twice. And of course he did. The man is at it everyday. I love the reverent language of Bevan McShea and it may be because I know the man is living it. I have undying respect and love for Lamont Steptoe and we should all take heed-that all we are ever doing is standing on the shoulders of giants. Our ancestors and great men like him. My friendship with great writer Jason Woolery is a boon to me. The man gives me a shot in the arm every time I need it and his work is strong, well thought out and executed. And memorable. The Reverend Kevin P.O’Brien’s work still has the love and wonder I have always appreciated in his poetry; tinged with both the beauty and despair of annihilation. The bluntness and cunning, and what I like to call the “slow knife” of Salvatore Cerceo’s work gave Tsunami Dreams an unmistakable realness and menace. And Maureen Ferguson’s Pale Bellied Mourner is still flying around in my ribcage, her writing style tickles me to no end when picturing that sassy woman in the field with binoculars on and smoking an L&M.

All of the poetry submitted wasn’t written for intellectual reasons. Nor were their reasons simply of an artistic nature. Some held themselves up to that bar, in either language or creativity. But they’re all heartsongs. Songs of the heart. They’re all lamentations or meditations-spells, or otherwise imminent realizations. They’re all either creations or the raw materials needed to create. And they all have a truth.

I don’t have to assume an intellectual stance when editing heart songs. And I don’t have to find fault in your work or mine, in order for it to be good.
I’ve got everything I need. I know my work is good. I know it’s necessary. And I know, like everything, it’s a process. Your beautiful work and craftsmanship helped me realize this. And so much more. So ultimately, as editor (of your work and mine), I simply presented it.

Or, I didn’t.

Lastly, and most important-there’s a whole world spinning out there that has nothing to do with Art. Real creation happening every moment. It can be missed in a moment or for a lifetime. Especially when it’s gone. Especially when it’s gone. And that’s why poetry.

VOX POPULI VOX DEI
Trainer
Austin, TX

SEND YR POEMS, RANTS, MISSIVES&GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE
to:
Jim Trainer
EdItor, GFtT
jamesmichaeltrainer@gmail.com

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