“No honest poet
can ever feel quite sure of the permanent value of what he has written,
he may have wasted his time and messed up his life for nothing.”
their experiences shamelessly, they exploit them.”
When the deciding
was done and we had the poems to be published in this 5th Anniversary
double issue of the Melic Review, the curmudgeonly editor recognized
an underlying theme in the works—“Disconnected.” Perhaps this was
in some way a reflection of said editor’s own feelings, having recently
disconnected himself from the United States by way of Mexico.
But this got
me thinking about the idea of connectivity and disconnectedness in
poetry and in the life of the poet. Isn’t poetry all about connectivity,
neuron flashes, words and images pasted together on a magical dot-to-dot
canvas? The way a poet looks at a tree and thinks of his life. But
then the very nature of poetry almost forces the poet to disconnect,
to recollect in tranquility. Imagine how the non-poet must view the
poet’s routine—how the poet spends hours upon hours changing little
words and phrases, and for what? There is no monetary gain, and often
no recognition at all.
Poets seek to
connect, but this seeking often causes further disconnections. Eliot
worked as a bank clerk for years (until given a position at Faber
and Faber in 1925), which helped keep his external life disconnected
from his internal life. Others didn’t manage as well—Chatterton, Berryman,
Plath, Sexton, Crane, Jarrell, and Teasdale.
And yet, is
this feeling of being disconnected limited to poets? Limited to artists?
I doubt it. For every Rothko, Gorky, Van Gogh, Hemingway, Woolf, Kosinski,
Cobain, there are a thousand others, not artistic, left nameless.
Who still believes
the lie of the global village? Recently I was at a concert, my first
big rock concert in years. The band was Phish and the audience was
young and tie-dyed. Midway through the concert, I noticed that people
on all four sides of me had cell phones against their ears– talking
to others not at the concert, talking to those at the concert in distant
seats. It seemed odd to me that even though the music was happening
then, the immediacy of the event was lessened by the persistent need
for these individuals to be elsewhere too. They were disconnecting
themselves by connecting. The global village is populated by invisible
souls, ghosts, and the disconnected.
And maybe this
is why so many poets are writing poems about disconnections— in personal
relationships, riding the broad avenues of loss, or lacking political
I hope the poems
we chose connect with you.