A Poet By Any Other Name Is Still Unknown and Broke
In 1961, Newton Minow called television “a vast wasteland.”
In 2009, it’s pretty safe to say Ol' Newt's perception of scale was just a smidge off the mark. The brain fairly puckers to imagine the description he would cough up today.
Last night while bottom feeding through five-hundred channels, I heard the oft-used descriptive niblet “X is a poet of the streets.” At the moment I can't recall of whom it was said, nor who said it, but the meaning, I gathered, was that the poet in question was somehow more raw, less refined--hence a more authentic voice--than all us other coddled, lapcats of the Establishment.
It got me thinking.
Now, I don't know about you, but the last thing I want when I'm face down in the communal trough of pixels is to be made to think. One moment I was doing my best imitation of a paperweight, the next, my brain is sort of sputtering toward sentience.; It was an eye-opening display of the power of television and I don't mind telling you, I am still a little resentful.
And what, you may ask, was this earth-roiling realization that came howling out of the wilderness into my cerebral cortex?
It was this: It would be pretty durn cool to be known as a "Poet of the Streets," or failing that, the official poet of just about anything.
Since "Poet of the Streets" was already taken, I googled “poet of...” and below is a sampling of the poetic appellations that the search spat out:
Poet of the Heart and Poet of the Hard Country,
a Poet of Property, as well as a Poet of the Huddled Masses.
Several Poets of the American West, to go with a couple Poets of the American West Coast.
To my everlasting glee, there are not one, but two, Poets of Impropriety.
Unsurprisingly, there is a Poet of the Skies, but the fact that there is only one Poet of Exile seems unjust, if not impossible.
Also, unsurprisingly, the Poet of Sickness and Evil, is also one of several Poets of Disaffected Youth. (Go figure).
And then there were the ones that I'm not sure anyone realized we were lacking until the poets themselves showed up, namely the Poet of Minivan-driving Soccer Moms, the oddly nonsensical Poet of East-West Wisdom, and the various Poets of the Week, Month, and Year.
As soon as I wrap this thing up, I plan to search with the single-minded intensity of a bull-weasel for a suitably dignified (and marketable) appellation. I suggest you claim a moniker for yourself before all the good ones are taken.
Now, see if you can match the poets below with there titles above. It's fun!
Rumi, Philip Boothe, Valerie Haboush, Emma Lazarus, Bret Harte, William Stafford, John Neihardt, Robinson Jeffers, Gary Snyder, Sam Coleridge, Kazi Nazrul Islam, Saint-Exupery, Mahmoud Darwish, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Allen Ginsberg, Bukowski, Baudelaire, Heinrich Heine, Osama Bin Laden, Rachel Barr, Paul Muldoon, Kenneth Rexroth
Photo Credit: TV test pattern with Indian Head Image by Wonderlane
Photo Credit: Television Transmission Tower by Woodley Wonderworks
Photo Credit: Charles Baudelaire, 1855 by Nadar. Courtesy of Marcelo Noah