Happy Friday. I'm writing about an event that happened last weekend, but having thought about it a bit, am now just writing this. My friend and I were discussing poetry as we were departing from Deerfield on Sunday, February 26th. He gave me his phone, asking me to look up Bougainvillea and Slow Dance by Matthew Dickman. I admitted I typically avoided contemporary writers since I felt they lack a sort of authorial legitimacy that my time-tested classics possess. On his scratched up smart phone, I read the two works aloud.
Written in free form, I thought of the immediacy and looseness of Bukowski, but Dickman was someone who was able to sculpt something much more refined, albeit still tugging at subtle feelings, building to a poignant realization. Bougainvillea's final lines hit me like a bullet. My first impression was of a beautiful cycle of regeneration. The kind of thing in which Neil DeGrasse Tyson had said "just as we are in the universe, the universe is within us. We never take the time to just think and stew in just what it means to be human on this earth. The sense of interrelatedness is humbling. Slow Dance spun in my brain, weaving a rich narrative that allowed me to see, taste, and feel the sensual delights the narrator was indulging in. I thought of Ginsberg and the celebration of hedonism and youth.
More than anything, my friend and I both agreed that Dickman's work carries the importance of observation. It clicked for me. Photography and some of the best poetry, are able to utilize a frame of reference that allowed writer and artist to focus on a subject - an idea, a feeling, a fleeting will-o-wisp of something. What an artist best does then is seemingly fire off flares (words, pixels, colors, tones, notes) to slowly light and delineate a concept to fruition. I believe the best kind of art shows a feeling more than absolute clarity.
Below is Matthew Dickman reading Slow Dance. What do you feel when reading Dickman's work? Do all poetry or visual/musical art need a perspective? What makes art, well, art? What is "good" art to you? With so many styles and mediums, is there one universal aspect or formula that separates artifice from reality? Let me know how you feel about all this.