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Sunday, May 31, 2009

Music and the line

I wonder how many poets have been influenced by rock and roll and the Sixties-Seventies' impact on language. I've been listening to vintage rock, appreciating its new rhythms and language, how much of a formative era it was. At the same time, I've been reading poetry by people who came of age then or not long after. They seem to have made a major shift in the handling of the line, using forceful new rhythms, and imagistic rummaging and reveling in pop-cultural detritus. I think of explosive language, . I think of poets like Brenda Hillman, Alice Fulton, Denise Duhamel, Nin Andrews and Joy Harjo (a rocker as well as a poet). I think of the idealism, hope and sense of personal freedom that emerged from that time.

And it's not just a bygone era. There's a vibrant new production of Hair on Broadway. The new film Every Little Step documents reviving the iconic musical A Chorus Line. Remember Love-Rock? Anti-war protests? Those time are with us again in mini skirts, boots, Beatles cuts and fringe. Some kind of celebration of the classic rock era is underway. Feeling its effects, I began to listen to the music and think about how embedded that cultural influence is in my sense of language as music and as a cultural force. That era gave us the power of new media, thanks to the defense industry and its missiles (huge irony). Those deadly instruments morphed into our favorite gadgets, the personal computer and all its spawn. Thus blossomed individual control of media. I give you blogging, Facebook and Twitter. I give you the cell phone (Star Trek's communicator come to earth) and Skype.

The poetic line can't be the same post-Hendrix. You don't have to have lived through the Sixties to have their rhythms in your ear. I think I'll go and listen to some Jimi Hendrix and see what happens to my next poem. Any listening suggestions? I'm all ears.

I'm adding Coconut to this blogroll. I checked it out after reading Sandra Beasley's excellent article about online poetry in Poets & Writers, From Page to Pixels.

Also adding a link to 10 Privacy Settings Every Facebook User Should Know. Thanks, Jerry C., for pointing us to this important resource. Now where's the list of things every Twittering poet should know?
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