Monday, April 15, 2013

Lyrics as Poetry-Joni Mitchell

Where is poetry in our lives?  I think it is everywhere. One obvious place is in song lyrics. I chose to make this post about Joni Mitchell since she has a book out (well, its been out a long time) entitled The Complete Poems and Lyrics of Joni Mitchell. I've  linked a You Tube video of her singing one of her songs/ poems (not sure if it is in the book).   Read  All I Want.  Then listen to the song. Is it the same experience? If there was no music to the words, is this a poem?

 An Amazon Editorial  Reviewer  wrote 

" The sweeping imagery and confessional tone of Joni Mitchell's lyrics have made her a pop icon for decades. Her writing, like that of Paul Simon and Bob Dylan, helped legitimize song lyrics as poetry by adding sophisticated shadings and nuances that earlier rock and folk music often lacked. What's more, as a woman writing in a medium dominated by men, Mitchell became an important role model for young women trying to make sense of their lives during turbulent times.Given her importance as a pop poet and the care and craft with which she approached her craft, it is a treat now to have her work compiled in one volume. Mitchell's has been an aural art, but having the words to read on the page without benefit of melody heightens one's appreciation of the lyrics as poems."

Joni Mitchell: The Complete Poems and Lyrics

Joni Mitchell: The Complete Poems and Lyrics

 Lyrics and Video from You Tube

  All I Want by Joni Mitchell

I am on a lonely road and I am traveling
Traveling, traveling, traveling
Looking for something, what can it be
Oh I hate you some, I hate you some
I love you some
Oh I love you when I forget about me
I want to be strong I want to laugh along
I want to belong to the living
Alive, alive, I want to get up and jive
I want to wreck my stockings in some juke box dive
Do you want - do you want - do you want
To dance with me baby
Do you want to take a chance
On maybe finding some sweet romance with me baby
Well, come on

All I really really want our love to do
Is to bring out the best in me and in you too
All I really really want our love to do
Is to bring out the best in me and in you
I want to talk to you, I want to shampoo you
I want to renew you again and again
Applause, applause - life is our cause
When I think of your kisses
My mind see-saws
Do you see - do you see - do you see
How you hurt me baby
So I hurt you too
Then we both get so blue

I am on a lonely road and I am traveling
Looking for the key to set me free
Oh the jealousy, the greed is the unraveling
It's the unraveling
And it undoes all the joy that could be
I want to have fun, I want to shine like the sun
I want to be the one that you want to see
I want to knit you a sweater
Want to write you a love letter
I want to make you feel better
I want to make you feel free
Hmm, Hmm, Hmm, Hmm,
Want to make you feel free
I want to make you feel free

Friday, April 5, 2013

"Life is a Mess and Art is Form" Conversation With Poet Billy Collins (Cortland Review Link)

Is life really a mess as someone told Billy Collins?  An enlightened being once said life is how you see it. Then there is that old familiar line about its not what happens to you but how you react to it that determines the quality of your experience. I think both are true. I also think personality, genetics, family systems and some luck play into  how we react to our lives. I do think it is hard to change basic things about yourself like if you are a half empty person or a half full one. Some people get rattled by everything, other people are laid back about  most things. The laid back people call the rattled people over- reactive and the  over- reactive people call the laid back people simple or procrastinators or insensitive. Is life a mess? I  go back and forth between the half empty and half full glass. In a "good"  poem the glass of life is always full for me. That is why I read and write poetry. It is an affirmation.

So where is my rambling leading me when it comes to the Billy Collin's interview?  When he mentioned that writers spend their time lying to people in a way to make them think the work is about the reader when it is really about the writer set me to thinking. When he said poets need only one story (their own) that they  vary  in each poem bells and whistles went off. That is what I do.  I tell my story over and over again with few exceptions. If I am not telling an actual story of mine every poem reflects my pov on all things.

Recently I  have been reading lots of  current poetry and find I don't like much of it.  Why? Well, I am not really into poetry that is so dense you need a jungle guide to plow through it or poetry that waxes poetic about life and death or poetry that is nature oriented that describes the breezes blowing or narrative poetry that could have been written as  prose.  Then there are the extremely crafted poems, I feel like they are in a straight jacket. I am looking for something new. I yearn for newness, freshness of language and vision. Not everyone feels this way about the poetry that is out there today. I don't mean to sound like the styles or themes of poetry I mentioned can't be inspiring or even great.  I meant to say that it is originality  within the style or theme I am seeking. Sometimes I find that newness or originality in prose poetry with its element of magical realism and sometimes I find it in Billy Collin's poems. He often just gets to the heart of an emotion and experience and it is clear and plain. I feel  yeh, that is life.

 Poets need to energize the word.

If anyone wants to suggest a poet to me, I'd be grateful. I want to find some nitty gritty down to earth poets or poets who are so sublime in their use of words or vision that I am  left breathless for a moment. The element of surprise is what I am seeking in a poem  these day.

The form  of a poem is vital as Collins said in the interview. That is perhaps what I am writing about, how to make the form vital and new and connect it to relevant content. It is a difficult task. It is often what is left out of the poem, the silent part that holds the most surprise. It is the part the reader has to fill in and this is where the poet  artistically lies to the readers skillfully pulling them into the poem until  they are almost hypnotized.