A Defence of Poetry

Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.
(c) gregoria green

“Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.”

This is a quote by the great and controversial English Romantic and philosophical poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley (August 4, 1792 – July 8, 1822) from his essay A Defence of Poetry, published posthumously in 1840.

percy-bysshe-shelley-9481527-1-402

The reason I like this quote so much is because it speaks volumes on how poets and poetesses have been changing history for centuries, even if at a micro level perhaps. But it’s often the lawmakers, governors or politicians who are being given credit for altering the state of the world. As outsiders, poets observe things, nature, people, animals and life as it is, from an objective standpoint view.

So here’s to the poets, who, in isolation, make society more bearable through mastering their craft.

© 2020

 

 

Artist Quote 7: David Byrne

david byrne artist quote
(c) gregoria green

“I sense the world might be more dreamlike, metaphorical, and poetic than we currently believe–but just as irrational as sympathetic magic when looked at in a typically scientific way. I wouldn’t be surprised if poetry–poetry in the broadest sense, in the sense of a world filled with metaphor, rhyme, and recurring patterns, shapes, and designs–is how the world works. The world isn’t logical, it’s a song.” David Byrne, Bicycle Diaries (2009).

Poetry is the way of the world. Music is the way of the world. All else is nonsense. 

David Byrne (b. May 14, 1952) is a singer, songwriter, musician, writer – you name it. Also the lead singer of the new wave band, Talking Heads from 1975 to 1991, David Byrne is one of the greatest artistic minds of our generation, with more creativity and originality than we can keep up with. His musical genius spreads across multiple genres and is even reflected in his all-encompassing book on music theory, the music industry and the art of making music, How Music Works published in 2012.

How Music Works

I was fortunate enough to re/discover Talking Heads in 2019 when I started diving deep into their discography. I was hooked and the entire world became magical all of a sudden. Everything was music and nothing hurt. I will always look back on the time I listened to their music, as well as Byrne’s solo projects as one of the happiest, most ecstatic of my life. So I cannot begin to describe the appreciation I have for David Byrne’s mind which vastly contributed to our culture with everlasting tunes.

Also, happy belated birthday, Mr. Byrne!

MANifesto: A Call To Tender Arms

manifesto - a call to tender arms
(c) collage by gregoria green – up left: Two men dancing in The Dickson Experimental Sound Film (1984), also featured in The Celluloid Closet by Vito Russo (1995) as one of the earliest images of same-sex imagery in cinema; up right: Johnny Marr and Steven Patrick Morrissey from the pop-rock band, The Smiths (1986); down left: Chris Colfer and Darren Criss as Kurt and Blaine in the American musical TV-series, Glee (2009-2015); and down right: Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer and Elio and Oliver in Call Me By Your Name by Luca Guadagnino (2017).

What is it that is so warm and endearing about two men on screen who are friendly towards each other, instead of hostile, who are touching, instead of shoving, hugging, instead of punching?

It is so securing because it means that, in that very moment, men are not at war with one another, and therefore the world itself is not at war any longer, but morphed into a delicate exchange of humanness that no manly masculine violence can touch or grasp. It is a holy and jolly communion because it speaks volumes on how we’ve accustomed men to be and behave – always at odds, against and in competition, when in truth, there is no status and no power in being another, but only who one is.

For that is the order of the world: showing affection, empathy and compassion, even when one is supposed to rule – but not over Earth or another creature, but over thyself, with dignity, as if one belonged to the third, fourth or any other gender that does not kill, maim, taint, ridicule or humiliate to feel like a real man. The reality is that manhood, as it has been depicted for decades now, is grotesque, lacks depth, genuineness or common sense.

We’re on autopilot, putting the vulnerable down out of habit, sprawling out of habit, spitting instead of tearing up, out of habit. We launch missiles, we endanger/engender species – out of habit. We run businesses, we test animals, we forge signatures and claim kingship over the land and everything that breathes. Yet, we love too, and get depression.

Oh, men with flowers…oh, men with gentle, soft-spoken words that soothe the human spirit, where are you?

manifesto - a call to tenderness 2
(c) collage by gregoria green entitled Men with Flowers; left: Chris Colfer and Darren Criss as Kurt and Blaine in the American musical TV-series, Glee (2009-2015); right: Johnny Marr and Steven Patrick Morrissey from the pop-rock band, The Smiths (1986).

Is masculinity in crisis or is masculinity the crisis? Where do we begin? Let there be marches for men’s rights to be caring, tender and emotional – the new ‘civil’ rights. Anything that humanizes them and does away with antiquated gender norms and other silly social constructs is much needed. Right now,

You can do what’s right or you can do what you are told. (Days of Decision, song by Phil Ochs, 1966)

That being said, I will leave you with this resounding poem by Harold Norse (1916-2009), an American Beat poet who became a prominent figure of the gay liberation movement:

I’m Not a Man

I’m not a man, I can’t earn a living, buy new things for my family. I have acne and a small peter.

I’m not a man. I don’t like football, boxing and cars.
I like to express my feeling. I even like to put an arm
around my friend’s shoulder.

I’m not a man. I won’t play the role assigned to me- the role created by Madison Avenue, Playboy, Hollywood and Oliver Cromwell, Television does not dictate my behavior.

I’m not a man. Once when I shot a squirrel I swore that I would never kill again. I gave up meat. The sight of blood makes me sick. I like flowers.

I’m not a man. I went to prison resisting the draft. I do not fight when real men beat me up and call me queer. I dislike violence.

I’m not a man. I have never raped a woman. I don’t hate blacks. I do not get emotional when the flag is waved. I do not think I should love America or leave it. I think I should laugh at it.

I’m not a man. I have never had the clap.

I’m not a man. Playboy is not my favorite magazine.

I’m not a man. I cry when I’m unhappy.

I’m not a man. I do not feel superior to women

I’m not a man. I don’t wear a jockstrap.

I’m not a man. I write poetry.

I’m not a man. I meditate on peace and love.

I’m not a man. I don’t want to destroy you

San Francisco, 1972

Morning Music

morning music gregoria green
(c) gregoria green; original photo by @hitoshi513

she could keep living like this
a queen in her own right
painting a vulgar picture of the world
alone in her corner full of records
recordings of the mind
early morning is now but a dream
let sleep be my only vice
as she holds her head high now
pulsating with life
and threading hope from sound to sound
it’s you and you alone inside her head
green tea scent she will recollect
for when the good days have passed
into mortality
apple and cinnamon fill up the kitchen
and the rain comes down shyly from a wide grey sky
to a ground ready to receive it with affection
at 8.37 am
her cortex becomes the clock machine
menacing, ticking into folly
leaking the passage of time
but she carelessly lets her washed hair down
and glances at the nude painting of her muse
hanging right above the turntable
a black and white magnum opus that would make a whore blush
with stories of loss to turn a man’s hair grey
smoke finds its way to your undying lips
but you remain still, lifeless and as beautiful as ever
she takes another drag on her cigarette
and pours more tea from the kettle
to keep her awake for when you come alive
like Pinocchio turned to boy
B side A side B side A side
the record is relentless
it knows nothing of the suffering
outside its tunes
like celestial bodies in a lovelorn universe
spinning sorrowfully
to give her what she wants:
mourning music
thus she becomes the boy
all inside a song
that never ends
never ends
ends