Friday, April 09, 2004

the physics of poetry

I've been pondering this idea of mass into energy into mass into energy for the last few weeks and looking to see where and how this idea plays itself out. I think I'm fascinated by it because I've always loved physics and growing up I used to watch this PBS show called, "Eureka!" which was only like 5 minutes long but condensed various physics theory in an amusing cartoon.

In feng shui terms, it's quite clear. You clear out your closet full of stuff you don't need (mass), you sell it at a garage sale (energy), to get stuff you really need and use (mass). Eventually, if the mass you've got is quality stuff, you'll also attract quality energy.

After the lecture/demo I did with Eileen at Mills, I wondered how this idea works in poetry. So here you are, a wanna be writer. You have energy but no mass. So what do you do, you go read a whole bunch of poets (either by hanging out at Barnes & Nobles or going to an MFA program). Essentially acquiring mass from this stack of books you're going through. Now, initially you grab onto everything cuz well you don't know quality from the junk pile, but that's ok, you've got mass. You finish reading all these books, and maybe you get rid of some of the ones you didn't really like or weren't really good. You keep the ones you like cuz they inspire you to write (energy) which turns into poems (mass). But this time it's your mass.

Subsequently, you go through this cycle of reading and writing, editing and refining (mass and energy mass and energy) until you've built up your poems (mass) to send them out (energy) unto the world to be published (mass). This now gets you book readings and lectures (energy) which you will hopefully turn into more mass or at least help you continue to refine your quality mass.

Now, this all seems very obvious. Read poems, write poems, send out poems, get poems published, do readings, write more, publish more, etc.

I'm thinking about this now because right now, I'm not doing much of any of this. Though, I am writing this blog on a regular basis, so that's gotta count for something. Part of the reason I'm not doing a whole lot of reading and writing of poems right now is well, I'm kind of busy with some other mass-energy-mass cycles elsewhere in my life. Quite a few big changes coming up in the next year or so and poetry is on the back burner right now, which saddens me a bit because a part of me would like to think poetry should always be on the front burner, but I'm not sure if that would work either.

But I think of mass and energy in terms of the process of creating poems because when I'm ready to get this moss covered rock moving I'm going to need a philosophy to get it unstuck. I'm going to have to get my mass in gear. Fortunately, I'm still hanging around a few readings here and there, still reading a few blogs where people are generating poetry on a regular basis, doing collaborations with folks who are generating poetry off of my movements, so in that sense, I'm not too far away from the flow of it all. That in the least is reassuring.

Of course, this mass-energy cycle of poetry is thoroughly interrelated with all the other mass-energy cycles revolving in my life (my relationships, my clutter, my career, etc), each with it's own ebb and flow. It just so happens I'm ebbing right now. Understanding that this is a cycle helps me get through this ebb.

If anything, poetry teaches one patience.

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