I found myself, over two days, watching both volumes of George Quasha’s “poetry is (Speaking Portraits)”. Here’s link to Volume 1 and here’s Volume 2. ’Twas fascinating—I kept wanting to stop (very busy over here) and/or waiting for the boredom to come. But ultimately I found it difficult to avert my gaze. The series’ basis includes close-ups of the poets’ faces as they discuss what “poetry is” … and I was fascinated to see how, in trying to articulate poetry, many gave a sense of being overcome by “poetry” such that many faces lapsed to, as they say, the mile-yard stare … except it’s inward. Is that why I try to be nice to poets? Because I feel sorry for them, for us, all? P.S. A pleasant surprise to hear Robert Kelly say, among other things, “All a poet ever has to do besides being a very good person and feed, as Olson said, a lot of sugar cubes to a lot of horses...is to let language happen.” Focused on the pre-punchline. Less than a handful of poets, I think, discussed goodness … and yet perhaps that’s what’s found — what’s staring back — at the end of … that mile-yard stare:
“Have you been a good person?"
With what I've taken away from the series so far (Volume 3 is in the works), Volume 2 concludes synchronistically with a church hymn from my childhood, hummed by Torben Ulrich. I would not have expected such ... but take me to church!
For me, there could not have been a better video ending to what "poetry is" -- that sounding from this Danish artist, then his beautiful smile, then "That's it!":