Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Long back at ya!

Katy, thank you so much! This is one of the most generous emails I've received in a long time. And the fact that you wrote it twice makes it twice as generous still! (That's plenty generous, you know...). I do apologize again for forgetting to reply after you've taken all the time and effort to write it. So what I did last night is forward it to my work address (since this is the place where, unfortunately, I spend most of my waking life). And this is where I am writing from now...

Now I have to thank you (thanks going back and forth!) for making me think about poetry more deliberately. See, for me, perhaps because poetry is more of a passion/hobby (two horribly trite words), I always approached it with the sanctity of religion or a magic trick. It's perhaps because I believe in no religion (and I believe we all need one, or something to plug that existential hole in us) that poetry was the latest form for me of that which I believe in. When I was younger (in my teenage years) it was the Dream. First, that was in the form of life in America, in my dream open and accepting, and a life with a gorgeous and loving lover. And then than quickly morphed to and fused with a dream of Cinema (that had all the hues of my epic and largely romantic self at the time). I left med school for that (and the fact that I could not stand the smell of formaldehyde or sawn bone any longer). That was quickly thwarted, however, as my parents wouldn't hear of a career in film (or lack of one, as they saw it). Architecture was the compromise. (I am unsure whether or not I am grateful for that; it wavers.) Thankfully, I liked architecture. It took me a while to "find my voice" in it (thankfully, that was before graduation). But that voice wasn't really architectural as much as it was poetic/conceptual. Now architecture is simply a living for me, a day job. My dream re-emerged after that to plug the immense void of "the real life": first in the form of art (which proved to be too cumbersome for my lazy and impatient self), and more recently in the form of poetry. Not that poetry was new to me. In a way, all the above was (and is) a part of me. Though my fascination in poetry in my youth was in Arabic. The English poetry I was taught in school was largely off-putting (perhaps for the exception of Poe). Wordsworth and Shelly and Keats just slay me (ok, Byron was kinda okay; perhaps it was that gay-ish sensibility for me); but especially that most inflated figure of English literature: Shakespeare (take that Herald Bloom!). But I loved Arabic poetry, from the classical with its labored, complex and bombastic flairs, to the modern with its existential romanticism and lyrical angst. (I hated, however, having to learn about the complex science of meters and rhythms--and in Arabic it is a much more involved affair. That was perhaps the point at which I rejected meter and structure in poetry.)

Still, poetry, like art and cinema, remained for me larger than life (perhaps just as large, as I can think of nothing larger than life). It is perhaps for that that I maintain that old antiquated attitude about them, that sacred approach. Don't get me wrong; I am the first to slash bad art. I just don't feel the need (I actually hate it, usually) when artists talk about their work. (It is perhaps in opposition for me to architecture, which I think should be highly thought out, and I tend to look down harshly on people who treat it with the vagueness or liberties of art. I think at best it can have some of the poetics of art; but it isn't.) In any case, my I-don't-want-to-know-the-trick-behind-the-magic attitude might originate in many an artist inability (if not complete handicap) to express themselves verbally (even writers; for some reason some can write, but not talk about their writing). What you wrote makes me believe that more, as I don't have a difficult time at all reading what you wrote. On the contrary, I find it lucid and evocative. I guess, the closest I came to expressing my intention in writing is perhaps in that poem I Write (which turned out to be very similar, come to think of it, to the intention I expressed in my personal statement when I was applying for film school, and then my thesis: namely capturing memory). And I guess isn't that why we all write, after all?

Sometimes, I used to dream about having a posse of creative friends, that intellectual circle of a movement. That was more part of my adolescence dream. Now, unfortunately, I have grow too jaded (even before I'm thirty!) and chewed to fantasize about that. And after my architectural education, I am more wary of movements and isms (as necessary as they may be).

Ah, what else? What else? I don't know; maybe I'll write it later if I thought of it. I'd better get back to work. Please let me know what you think. Sorry, again, and thanks, again...

All the best,


No comments: