This is the fourth in a series of what I call blurb essays, or, as they’re more formally called, personal essays. The first one was written by our first featured poet, Andreas Gripp. I found it on his website. I don’t think he thought of it as an essay. Since that one, I’ve written all two of them. No problem. They’re like candy to me. I could write personal essays til the cows come home. It’s fun. I have a blog full of them. They’re about anything I feel like going on about.
But this space has to do with poetry. Of which I have a limited acquaintanceship. Anyone who has put in a week with Kathryn Mockler at UWO knows a lot more about poetry than I do. So I will very soon need some help to keep this thing going. Maybe even from you.
I can imagine that when you look at this space you have a hard time seeing yourself here. It looks like it belongs to me, Stan. I’m the big banana. The
head cheese. The whole shootin kaboodle is mine: the websites, the open mic, the table readings, the featured poets. I started it all, organized it all, put my pennies into it, and cajoled and wheedled people to work for me for nothing just to make me look good. Like top dogs always do. The rest of the people just look on.
But actually no, everybody came of their own accord. They wanted the open mic to happen as much as I did. And this internet space isn’t here just so I can show off to everyone that I know how to put a paragraph together. It’s for whomever will take advantage of it.
It’s for anyone in the London area who’s into poetry. Students. Teachers. Beginners. Andreas. It’s also for those who don’t write poetry. For people who happen to stroll in off the street. And for Gregory Wm Gunn, who is packed and ready to explode, methinks. (I looked at his Facebook page.) It’s for those of you who, after that first Poetry Night, are already regulars. It’s for those who will never attend. It’s for young Bryton McKinnon who will be clobbering us with something about slam in a few days. It’s for Erik Martinez Richards, whom I’ve been pestering to tell us about the poetry of Chile. It’s for Dawna Perry who is brewing up something in the back room that she isn’t talking about. It’s for Kevin Andrew Heslop who has only been in his freshman class a few weeks and yet is so much more of a poet than I am that I’m in shock. He owes me an essay for that comment. And it’s for you.
There’s a community here. It’s small but it’s our own. It’s us. The open mic and table readings will help to bring us together physically. This internet space is for our minds.
It’s an easy thing to take part in. If you don’t have it in you to write a blurb, well, when someone else does, just leave a comment. A few words will do. Or get carried way. We can get to know each other just through website comments.
Okay, what’s a personal essay? That’s easy: no citations, no footnotes, no bibliography, no proofs, no cutting out your opinions. A personal essay is you having a conversation with a very patient listener--your reader--about something that excites you. A personal essay is you. At a minimum you just write out your idea the way you would explain it on the phone. If you want to do a better job, then have the reader enter your life, follow along with you, enjoy your situation, and think of your idea exactly as you did, while you’re explaining it. Or before. And when you get the reader to the big idea, don’t look around for the perfect formal logic in which to cast it. No. Get frustrated. Break through all that. Just say, “Look...” and let loose on your patient listener. That’s the instant in the conversation when you wish you had a recorder. But you don’t. So start typing as fast as you can. And don’t stop till you’re done. When you’re done, you’re done. People either get it or they don’t. Take a break. Go for supper. Then read it over. Add, subtract, rearrange, clarify, check your grammar, spelling, and then email it to me: email@example.com
If it isn’t perfect, don’t worry about it. Who is?
For the overly curious, my old essays: http://airweb.blogspot.ca/