The rooftop reading Sunday... and something about William Blake and CA Conrad's (Soma)tic exercises... restless yesterday afternoon. I had an impulse to walk out on the street and start reading poems. Just to do it. ... so I took a few printed pages and sat on a bench on Passyunk Ave.... and read them out loud. No matter who is or isn't there, I thought, I'm going to do this-- and I did.
And any residua of self-consciousness I had vanished with the first sound that came out of my mouth.That residua... the collective JUDGE, the INHIBITOR. It isn't about making a scene in public--not about anything 'out there.' It's about confronting the internalized COLLECTIVE SHAME MACHINE and breaking free.
I walked up and down Passyunk, east and west on side streets... thinking about where I might read these poems... and was immediately aware of how the differences one place and another. Public Space is not one thing, but a multiplicity, as multifaceted as the individuals who have created them. It would not do to read outside B2 Cafe. People there were people already involved in their own work: reading, drawing, writing... and I would be an intrusion, invading space others had staked out for themselves. should I begin speaking Other places were more or less welcoming, but in quite different ways. Almost every corner, every doorway, every open space revealed a different character, a different feel to how they would receive uses they were not designed for.
We are each of a city, a world--to be a poet means re-writing that internalized world. Such a perfect title--CA Conrad and Frank Sherlock's book--the City Real and Imagined.
Today I read my scroll poem in the middle of the parking lot on Passyunk. There was no one around to hear. But as I was reading the last few lines a man in a convertible pulled into the lot. Didn't seem to notice me, or didn't let it show--but as I was leaving I saw him looking around--not at me, but at the parking lot, the other cars... as though reassuring himself he was in the right place. Yes, it was still a parking lot... but a parking lot where someone comes to read poetry. I was doing the same thing... re-examining interior spaces to see how they had changed.