What’s with the dancing you ask? Well.. my dear friend Michelle pointed out to me yesterday that we are rolling into a glorious 10 day stretch of dates that are PALINDROMES! Let me tell you that when she texted me that yesterday it made me grin from ear to ear, not only because I’m a numbers nerd, but more because I have people in my life who really get me. That’s the secret sauce you know, and it shouldn’t be a secret which is why I’m making that my Fall mantra. The statement “teamwork makes the dream work” is overdone, but there’s a reason for that.
Things that are true get a lot of reps. That stands for both repetition and reputation. This reminds me of a topic I’ve pondered lately because of a craft essay I recently read for school. It was An excerpt from Marge Percy’s “Midgame: Making It Better, Truer, Clearer, More Gorgeous” and one of the sections talks about trend and cliche. Anybody that has studied poetry for even a hot minute knows that you generally try to shy away from the cliche. Comparing something beautiful to a rose, saying something is as deep as the ocean, or referencing the moon (or really any thing that happens to exist in the realm of the celestial). I mean, there are no rules really but if something becomes cliche then that means it’s sort of exhausted itself in a literary sense. The essay speaks a little on why.
It has to do with universal understanding and trends to some degree. Every poetic era is slanted by the thing that all the cool kids are doing. Back in the day (when the Rose 🌹 found out its claim to fame) iambic pentameter was king. And so too, was the traditional sonnet form. But how many traditional sonnets do we see in contemporary poetry? Not a lot. Why? Because it’s payed out and been replaced by free verse.
There was a time that end rhyme was all the rage and that’s like death to a poet nowadays. I mean, I still do it, because it’s in my blood but none of those little nuggets of deliciousness will ever be published. It’s not cool. The landscape of the current poetic discourse has evolved into something else, in which the rhyme and form still have a place, but are changed.
In the essay she says that yesterday’s trend by the nature of the beast becomes the very thing that people avoid, almost detest “today”. So what’s the new cool kid on the block? Believe me, that is the question de jour.
My mind bends into this question and the answer snaps back from a couple different places… The first is from the exploration of contemporary poets. People who are being published today, winning prizes, being celebrated. What their work is IS the essence of the current landscape. Absorb that. Lean into imitation and you’re a third of the way there (the other two thirds come from instinct/individual voice and careful attention to craft).
The second part of the answer comes from the mouths of mentors and classroom professors and conductors of workshops and peers. Over and over again it’s “make it interesting”, “make it weird”, “make it different/unique”. There is so much poetry out there. Millions of poems and more being born every day. They exist, but to survive and persist they have to call attention to themselves. They have to have a hook, to get someone’s attention. That someone is a gate keeper that looks at hundreds of poems all day every day. They see ordinary, cliche, antiquated form and that poem goes right into the bit bucket, trash bin, or paper shredder. So today’s landscape is the anti-cliche.
Death to the Rose and Moon. So long slow sunset, fading away with your seven different luscious fruit flavors into to the void of yesterdays fame. Goodbye Ocean Tide, ocean swell, ocean magic. Isn’t it just tragic.
But.. here’s my dirty little secret. I don’t care. It’s a glorious feeling. It’s freeing really, that I can get my head around all of this and come to an understanding with it and let my inner voice reign supreme anyway. It too, will evolve with every poem and poet I’m touched by, and perhaps it will be altered naturally into what it is meant to be. I can remove “perhaps” from that statement because it’s already happened, and is happening — daily. The evidence is staring back at me every time I compare yesterday’s work with what I am writing today.
That’s why I don’t have a problem dismissing the notion that cliche is taboo. I embrace the bone white moon in all her glorious phases. I drink the sunrise and sunset. I feel Teamwork making the dream work pulsing in my veins. And I’m not afraid to say it!
If you made it this far, thanks for staying with me, it’s you I’m talking about! We have 10 days of magic starting today.. make them count!
Dance Dance Dance,