On this blog I not only post my poetry attempts, but I also write about Poetry itself (which I call ‘metapoetry’). One of my metapoetry posts, criticizes prescriptionist ideas about what poetry is (or should be). I have found that some poets can be very parochial and protective of their hobby or profession — and especially about the word, “poetry” itself. And all those defensive, exclusive, in-house reflexes reminds me much of what happens in religions. But that shouldn’t be surprising, of course, for the same mind that creates religion and niches for her professionals, as also creates niches for those embracing poetry.
In my other blog, where I discuss religion, I recently wrote about a fine article by Tim McGirk’s in “Believer” magazine called “Reincarnation in Exile“. Tim is a former Time magazine bureau chief and his article was superb where shows the shadier side of Buddhism – including the fall into secular samsara of many famous young Tibetan monks. I not only learned a lot from the article, I greatly enjoyed McGirks’s wonderful language which he showcased in the beginning of his writing. Some of modern poetry has helped to uncomfortably blur the line between poetry and prose showing them both for what they are – words. McGirk’s article illustrates well how prose can be poetry.
Here are some of Tim’s phrases that I loved:
- splendidly improbably
- Spain, the country that had lent its name to the inquisition
- shaking off their hair-shirted Catholicism
- glazed in black ice
- tussling with a buzz-cut Spanish nun
- cheeks were flushed as his burgundy lama robes
- a church steeple rising through the village smoke
- wavy-haired and handsome like an Apache warrior
- a rinpoche who had not only taken the plunge into the ocean of samsara but had done a triple-gainer.[tempted by the goddess in the picture – Mandakini (see “dakini“)]
- tan cowboy boots and a striped indigo shirt that looked impeccably crisp in the wilting 105-degree heat
Comment-openers for readers: So, if you got this far, did you feel the poetry in these phrasings? Well I have two more questions: looking at Tim’s article in a browser, how narrow do you prefer to size it when reading — how many words on average per line. Then, how skinny do you have to make it to feel comfortable calling the first section of Tim’s article “Poetry”?