21 April, 2017

Letting loose the Gonzo: the baboon formerly known as a civilized man

GonzoFest 2017 was a wonderful experience, in spite of the fact that I remembered everything I needed but somehow managed to forget my copies of the poems I'd prepared to perform. 

It's true I was nervous. I wasn't sure how large the audience would be. Then again, I've performed in front of audiences ranging between one and 100 or more, in venues ranging from open mics to Moth Story Slam stages, to bars full of drunk post-punk Gen Xers and newly non-bearded hispters looking for a new craft brew experience. I've read in front of church marms and firebrand preachers and people who, in another world, might be considered saints, as well as some others who embrace the truth that we are all sinners.

But lately, I've taken a different approach to taking the stage. Regardless of whether I'm performing with a music soundtrack or reading poems, whether they are written to be performed or written to be read (and yes, there's a difference), I've decided that it's better to be confident than it is to be humble. I've known some fine poets who stand up and exude supreme calm and supreme humility, and supreme confidence. When I'm being honest, though, I'm not that calm patrician poet who can charm the audience and let the words roll forth like thunder.

Poetry, for me, is lightening. Poetry is an epic baptismal flood. Poetry is a god damn holy fire. And while I hold some poets in high regards who can carry the day with gravitas and civilized restraint, the fact is that there as many different kinds of poets as their poems. 

And while I have tried to become something like a member of civilized society, the fact is that somewhere along the way, I lost the part of me that might have been able to embrace a completely socialized life. It's not even that I was ever NOT socially awkward. But the fact is, somewhere underneath all of it, there was something else. 

Poetry -- and the arts in general -- do help civilizations be more cultured, kind, and heartfelt. However, when poetry -- and the arts in general -- takes hold of a person, it's more akin to demon possession. There's very little surety in art. You're constantly bombarded with different ideas and different people and different cultural pushes, all of which act to influence you, your art, and your vision. To be an artist is to be comfortable in uncertainty and to be willing to embrace mysteries. It means following your own bad advice sometimes, if only so you can make it out on the other side and write about it.

I was lucky at GonzoFest because I was able to ask my wife to run home and get them. But when it was time to take the stage, I knew there was no room uncertainty.  I was rattled. I was entirely too sober. And I was worried that my first live performance using a music track would fall as flat like a flat-earther's science test score. 

But since I've come to terms some of the more unsavory parts of my character, I've found it easier to let go of my nerves. You take in enough demons and you end up becoming one... or partially one. 

The part of me I lost, the part of me I never found, the part of me that, was maybe never there to begin
with, filled up with poetry.  Or, at least, with something that may feed my need to write and chase poetry like a rabid baboon.


If you like what you're reading here, I have work for sale on my amazon author page:
www.amazon.com/author/mickparsons
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