“Poesy, man. The world is full of it. It’s beautiful and crazy and sometimes violent, sometimes peace inducing. In every language. I had to join in. The overall song sucked me into it. You know the feeling. To hear Dylan Thomas in his own voice utter those head-shakingly gorgeous combinations of words and meanings. Whoa. Do I aspire to that exaltation? Heck yeah, why not? Do I hold a candle to it? No, but I’m trying. It’s like rodeo, man. You’re out there with your try in the arena, big or small, for a public to look at, laugh at, cheer, jeer.”
That’s an excerpt from my foreword from “Scattered Cranes,” my latest book (2017, Pski’s Porch Publishing) and it says why I write as well as anything. There are so many reasons. Why do I weld steel sculpture? Why did I drag race in high school? Why did I rodeo? Why did I attend a Robert Frost lecture by myself when I was a kid? Why did I write poetry in art school?
It’s a yearning. If you listen to the blues, the real thing, you can hear it. You just close your eyes and lean back into it. Pure jazz, the kind that Ahmad Jamal and MJQ came up with years ago when it was called “modern” explains the yearning and so does gut-bucket country with a fine-ass groove. Well, none of it may explain the yearning but it has a fix on it, it “gets it.” It’s why they do it. The expression of something within that just has to come out. Has to.
When I was a kid, I got a little printing press. It had rubber type you could set and make words with. I was the first fake news, before some journalism as we know it today; I made up stories about neighbors and people at the grocery store. Scandalous stuff about
espionage and odd goings-on in the dark of night. I didn’t know it but I was writing fiction, economical fiction because it was a bitch setting words, so I made them short and to the point. When you’re a typesetter/reporter/author you don’t digress a lot.
But I was hooked, and I read the books my folks left lying around. Paperbacks like Tobacco Road and Mickey Spillane. Crime thrillers. Pearl S. Buck and Edna Ferber. While I didn’t understand some of the words, I was transported. Some words sent me to the dictionary. Words did that.
I look at the words I’m writing now and think, maybe, just maybe, someone might like them. These words might affect someone. And I’m a little closer to solving the mystery of why I write.
I once expressed awe at an eighty year-old woman who went elk hunting in the winter. The man I was talking to said, “I guess nobody told her she couldn’t.”
And that’s as good a reason as any.