Thursday, March 10, 2005

Poeming, Audioscrobbling, and Eavesdropping. What a day.

I had a very romantic experience today. I got on the train to go into Cambridge for my class and, as usual, I pulled out my iPod to listen to music for the forty minutes it takes to get into the city. I was scrolling through my playlists, trawling for something I hadn’t listened to in a while, when I came across a playlist entitled “Poetry.” My mom has these CD’s of different poets reading their work, and I had apparently loaded a bunch of these onto my iPod a long time ago and promptly forgot about them.

So I started listening. And all of a sudden poetry made sense to me.

I’ve never been much of a fan of poetry; certain poems (“The Second Coming,” “Kubla Khan,” “pity this busy monster,manunkind,” to name a few) have stuck with me, but I generally feel pretty indifferent to poems I read. Now I realize why.

I think that reading a poem on paper is like reading the lyrics to a song—you miss the whole point of it. All the cadence, the rhythm and emphasis and alliteration and mood of the poem can’t really be expressed except aloud in words. Poetry was not supposed to be a written medium.

Which is not to say that I loved every poem on the CD—far from it—but I did find myself oddly moved by even those I didn’t really like. (In addition, nobody really knows exactly how a poem ought to be read except the poet himself. How convenient!) I think the CD I was listening to was, coincidentally, from the Beat poets and their contemporaries; it had people from Dylan Thomas to Allen Ginsberg to…you guessed it! Charles Bukowski. That makes this the third time in two days that Bukowski has come up in completely unrelated situations—first The New Yorker, then the dinner table, now this. The poems ranged from the very humorous, like Bukowski’s “The Secret of My Endurance” to the very erotic, like a certain other one that made me blush.

And so I sat alone in the train car, train rumbling underneath me, sky starting to get dusky outside, poetry in my ears…it was just utterly romantic and deeply relaxing.

I have a thing for trains. Not subways, trains. I love riding on them more than any other form of transportation, I’ve decided; I think when I go to Europe I’ll have to get me one of those Eurail passes. (Wasn’t that how the two characters met in Before Sunrise?)

Anyway, I’ll probably be listening to some of those other poetry CD’s now. I mention this because you’ll wonder what poets are doing in my Audioscrobbler account I just set up. I’ve already had one such inquiry. I have to admit that I’ve been a bit reluctant to sign onto the Audioscrobbler bandwagon for a while now, because I can be quite the compulsive listener; it could get embarrassing for everyone to know which songs I listen and re-listen (and re-re-re-re-listen) to, but I guess I’ve got nothing to hide. When you see “Since U Been Gone” (certain people can vouch for me when I say I scooped Jason Kottke on this one!), “Life on Mars,” and “Blowin’ in the Wind” again and again, you’ll just have to sigh and shake your head knowingly. That T.C.

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I overheard two conversations today, then I inevitably gave away that I was listening by bursting into laughter on both occasions. The first one is actually just a statement: “Dude, it was just like the acid blood of those aliens in Aliens!” I sort of tried to suppress my laughter but unfortunately the classroom was pretty much silent because, uh, we were supposed to be peer editing. I got sort of an indignant look (it seemed to say, “what, you don’t agree?”) from the Dude in question, and then normalcy resumed. The second conversation was better:

H: So what’s the deal with this girl? I mean, how do you know her?
C: I don’t even know her? She just invited me to her birthday party and I was like, uhh okay? And she said it would be really fun? But then I found out that she was talking to Steve and she was like, C. is such a bitch!
H: She didn’t!
C: She did! And so I was like, you’re a bitch, bitch! Why did you say that, you don’t even know anything about me! And she was like, you’re taking Steve away from me! And I was like, WE’RE. JUST. FRIENDS. BITCH.
H: So are you going to her party?

This was the point at which I burst into laughter. When C. pressed me for a reason as to why I would laugh at her suffering, I tried to tactfully tell her that she was acting the exact stereotype of an angsty teenage girl. Thankfully, I left it at that and did not mention the word “ditzy” at any point. (I also refrained from tossing in a flamboyant “bitch!” at the end for good measure.) All was well; don’t worry, I’d never scold harshly enough to hurt someone’s feelings and she certainly was unfazed by my comment. I think she was focusing on the problem at hand. Bitch.

Oh, sigh. See, the suburbs can be fun!

(And before I forget: someone made a Wikipedia entry on the yabs as a joke, and it's already pending deletion. Frankly, I don't blame them; and it's actually kind of nice to see how quickly bullshit entries are caught on Wikipedia. Love that site!)

Bye all.

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