Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Seeking patterns: Music, movies and poetry.

Years ago I read an article positing a question about movie critics Siskel and Ebert. Why would they rave over some obscure, hard-to-relate-to film, while panning the latest feel good Robin Williams family fare? The article went on to answer its own question. In a nutshell, Siskel and Ebert have seen so many movies that they require something more from their celluloidesque entertainment than the average moviegoer.

I've mentally returned to the ideas stirred up by this article many times, mainly when seeking to understand why I can barely tolerate most of the music on the radio, while my own music tastes are "torture" to my friends' ears. Looking back on my history, I've spent time working in a record store and also as a volunteer disc jockey and music director for a college radio station. I've had a music zine, and my record reviews and music articles were published by an entertainment newspaper as well. (Oh and I've also written songs, recorded them, and played briefly with a band, but that almost doesn't matter).  Does all this put me into that Siskel and Ebert zone, where I'm so familiar with music that I am bored to tears by the mainstream fare and need some serious weirdness to wake my neurons?

Contrast this with my experience with poetry. Two and a half decades ago I was very involved in the Newark, Delaware poetry scene. I met regularly with local poets and we critiqued each others' work. Many of us also read our work aloud, and occasionally even got paid for doing so. But other than the work of other local poets, I was not much of a poetry reader. Fast forward to now, and I'm even less involved with poetry than ever. In an attempt to find some new poetry to enjoy, I've discovered the work of Mary Oliver, which speaks to me more clearly than a lot of other stuff that's out there. And guess what? Mary Oliver is apparently America's best selling poet. So following the thought pattern, I am apparently not enough of a poet connoisseur to have obscure tastes in rhyme and verse. And that's fine with me. A bit of a relief actually.

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