Monday, April 25, 2011

The Air

Usually if I have a bit of time on the weekend, I write up a review of whatever book I've finished the week before and set it to post on Monday morning.  But this is tech week for the high school musical--opening night is this Thursday--and I haven't quite finished the book I was reading last week.  Mostly I've been reading poems, because I found some new volumes at the college library.

One of those volumes is Rae Armantrout's Money Shot.  A lot of the poems seem a little spare to me, like there should be more to them.  But this one--this one seems to me to be about precisely the situation I'm in this Monday morning.  I see it as a poem about not having much to say, but looking for a way to say something anyway:

The Air

Our first gods
were cartoon characters--

quirks and quarks--
each dead
and immortal.

Silence is death
silence is dead-air.

Give a meme
a hair-do.

Give it a split-screen.

Make it ask itself
the wrong question.

Make it eat questions
and grow long.

Especially after reading a lot of blogger responses to the "four things meme" lately, I like the lines "make it ask itself/the wrong question."  What exactly is the wrong question when you're just looking for something to say?  The pointed question?  The important question?  Or maybe just a question that's mildly amusing and makes people want to know more?


Harriet M. Welsch said...

Personally, I'm more sold on "give a meme a hair-do." I think the wrong question is the vague question -- it doesn't help the problem of not having anything to say.

Anonymous said...

I'm with Harriet. The more specific memes are the more interesting ones. (There are some that I get getting via e-mail and Facebook; I've done it once, I refuse to go through those questions again.)

I would argue that a truly wrong question is one that is too personal, such as how you lost your virginity.


Jeanne said...

Harriet, so, like, a make-over? I see what you mean, that the vague question is the wrong one. I do think a pointed question can be wrong in a different way-- memes are for sharing, but not much. Especially in terms of blogging, there are a lot of people who don't over-share. So the meme questions, to some extent, skim over the surface of what could be asked.

Lemming, your example of "truly wrong" is exactly what I meant by "pointed." There are some things that the whole world doesn't need to hear, and it's kind of funny to pretend intimate knowledge of a person when you, in fact, know them only on the surface.

Which doesn't mean that I don't have friends in real life who I know on the surface more than some of my imaginary friends.

It depends on the boundaries you set. I think most memes set the boundaries pretty high, and that's all right. Most of the people who answer them are not people who share much about themselves otherwise.

I'm an advocate of sharing a y'all missed that!

Harriet M. Welsch said...

I am very on the fence about memes, although I certainly am not above participating in them from time to time when I'm stuck for writing ideas. It's mainly because memes seem to be about sharing for the sake of sharing and it's not usually stuff I care very much about. I am more apt to do memes about books and/or music because I am more interested in knowing those things about others and hope that they'll respond too and a conversation will begin. But I couldn't care less about people's sex lives. I'm not even sure that's about oversharing or being too personal, but more that it's just not that interesting to me to talk about or to read about.

Harriet M. Welsch said...

And yes, I tend to give most memes I do a makeover. I seldom follow instructions well!

Alyce said...

I love the give a meme a hairdo part! This is the first time I've seen anything about memes in poetry (but I have to admit I don't read poetry often).

Jeanne said...

Harriet, that's a good interpretation of giving a meme a make-over. In that case, I do it too, as you well know!

I'm also much more likely to do memes about books, although I tend to do them on Facebook rather than blog about them. Music, not so much. My tastes are narrow in odd ways and extremely esoteric. Not much good to start a conversation.

Alyce, I did think it was funny to find the word "meme" in a poem, and hoped it would appeal to people who aren't necessarily big readers of poetry. Glad to hear it worked!

Jodie said...

The musical is so soon! I hope it goes well and whatever happens remember nothing is ever as bad as what happened to Spiderman the Musical.

Jeanne said...

Oh Jodie, thank you; I needed that reminder (made me laugh out loud). Last night's dress rehearsal actually went very well. I am proud to bursting that I have a daughter who sings powerfully enough that she's the only one with a solo who didn't have to have a microphone to be heard over the six-piece orchestra and piano!

Jodie said...

Oh I'm glad, I saw on Facebook that it seemed to be going well. So cool about your daughter's voice, not many people have that kind of power and the ability to control it.

Jeanne said...

Jodie, It's true not that not many people have that kind of voice. But I have three of them in my family, and there's always someone singing!