If you stop and think about it, poetry is completely out-of-date. To my knowledge there aren’t any poetry apps available for smart phones. And the poetic version of iTunes – iVerse – is nowhere to be found. Venture capitalists won’t touch it with a 30-foot stick. There’s simply no demand for downloadable poems.
Yet for some reason, poets keep writing the stuff and teeny-weeny boutique publishers keep publishing the stuff. Which proves my original point: poetry is out-of-date. It’s just that the poets and their publishers haven’t caught on yet.
‘Cuz I like poetry. I like poetry because it makes my brain do funny things. As I read poetry, my brain receives impressions which are unfamiliar. My brain translates the impressions to the concept most closely related, usually a feeling. And feelings feel good, for the most part. So since I like feeling feelings, I continue to seek out new poetry to read. I haven’t caught on either.
My latest ‘find’ is Joannie Strangeland. Her latest book of poetry is Into the Rumored Spring, published by Ravenna Press (one of the teeny-weeny publishers that haven’t caught on yet). Joannie is what I call an ‘evening’ poet. Evening poets are interesting because they have given up on thinking and have begun to search for happiness. In this sense, then, evening poets are like Evangelical Christians. They’ve died to one thing and been re-born. Born-again poets!
What’s so cool about evening poets is that they free their readers (those who haven’t caught on yet) from authority. It’s a kind of poetry anarchy. Because they no longer believe in anything, anything goes. Happiness is all that matters.
This type of poetry is very therapeutic. It provides plop-plop fizz-fizz relief from all the restrictions of prose (grammar and syntax). For example, Joannie’s ‘Intermezzo, 6,’ a four-line poem:
“He brings her stories
from across the gray lake.
He brings her the wind,
the smell of outside creased in his coat.”
Or ‘Intermezzo, 3,’ which goes like this:
Between the night
and the roof,
the sound of little creatures,
their small feet
Oh, no –
it’s just the rain.”
Joannie allows herself the pleasure of believing little creatures are scurrying across the roof of her house. The creatures could be elves or mice or tiny alien robots or baby demons. Whatever the creatures are, she is happy they are there. Anything is allowed. In the end, it’s just the rain. But Joannie’s unfettered imagination gives free rein to the possibilities.
And that’s what’s so great about happiness – it’s possible. It’s almost as if Joannie is asserting that God reveals himself through sensations. And if he does, so much the better, because it’s only by forgetting everything that we can really remember the feeling of happiness. Feelings allow us to remove ourselves from time.
Into the Rumored Spring is divided into four parts: The Song of Clouds That Hold No Water; After Venice; And Then Spring Passes Like a Stranger; and More Than the Sun. Each section is chock full of delightful descriptions of the people, places, and things that, when we think about them, are mundane. But when we see them through Joannie’s senses – in other words, when we stop thinking and put on our Joannie sunglasses – we’re able to see the passionate colors that were there all along.