Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Madgalene's Response/Whalen Tribute/SoCoCo At the Toad

Reminder: SoCoCo Reading Series Resumes 2PM Sun. Jan 11th as "SoCoCo At the Toad" Toad In the Hole, Santa Rosa with Lu Garcia, Gwynn O'Gara, Ed Coletti, David Madgalene, Mark Eckert, and Centa Theresa.

San Francisco Bay Area Poet David Madgalene Responds

November 6, 2008

Dear Ed,

I want to respond to Joseph Bednarik’s lament, “The Law of Diminishing Readership,” which you posted on your blog. I can’t help thinking about a recent concert I attended by South African drummer, Baba Shibambo. Shibambo asked us all to dance, to clap, and to make noise. He said, “In my village, there is no audience. We all participate.” With Shibambo’s encouragements as my touchstone, I should like to counter Bednarik’s argument that the fact more people are writing poetry while less people are reading it is a bad thing. I have to believe that the more people writing poetry, regardless of readership, or lack of it, is all for the best. Because that means that more people are attempting to enunciate their own experience for themselves rather than to have others do it for them. While it truly is a shame that many good poets, such as most of my friends, and, I might as well say, with no false modesty, in my opinion, a good poet such as myself, will never get the audience that we think we deserve, isn’t it better for us that we are at least trying to write poetry rather than just to live in sycophantic adoration of someone like Emily Dickinson or Robert Frost? And by the same token, if I believe that, must I not likewise extend the same courtesy to some young poet (or perhaps not-so-young poet), and believe that they, too, must be better off writing their own poetry, however humble, rather than to merely in live in sycophantic adoration of my own humble efforts? I am not Robert Frost, and I may not have one iota of his poetic gift, yet nonetheless, is it not a good thing that I write poetry anyway? Should indeed there be some misbegotten young sonneteer out there who has not one iota of my poetic gift, is it nonetheless not a good thing that he or she is writing poetry anyway? If nothing else, is not an act of true courage for someone like me, a mere pygmy at the feet of Robert Frost, to nonetheless, utter, “I AM…?” Is it not nonetheless an act of true courage for a mere pygmy at my poetic feet (if such a thing were even possible, I’ll grant you) , to nonetheless utter, “I AM…?” True poetry, I believe, is written for the self, regardless of readership, or lack thereof, while I am still generous-hearted enough to empathize with anyone, who bitten by the poetry bug, honestly thought, encouraged by family, friends, or teachers, could possibly write poetry to a world that had even the slightest trifling interest. However, I, for one, will never, never bemoan that fact that more people seem to be writing poetry than reading it. I’d prefer to echo the words of Baba Shibambo, and declare that I should rather wish to live in a world where there is no audience for poetry, because we are all poets!

David Madgalene

Comment Here on any of the above or below and read the comments of others too. Log in under "Name" or "Anonymous" if you like, but please be sure to sign some facsimile of your name. Actual name is best, but use what you like. Or email me at if you have difficulty.

Santa Rosa Philip Whalen Tribute Reading/Word Temple/Copperfield's Books/Nov. 7, 2008

If You're So Smart,
Why Ain't You Rich?

I need everything else
Anything else
But I have nothing
Shall have nothing
but this
Immediate, inescapable
and invaluable
No one can afford
Being made here and now

(left to right Gail King, Phyllis Meshulam, Pat Nolan, David Bromige(sitting), Clark Coolidge, Terri Carrion, Bill Hawley, Michael Rothenberg, Brian Howlett, Katherine Hastings, and Ed Coletti)

Comment Here on any of the above or below and read the comments of others too. Log in under "Name" or "Anonymous" if you like, but please be sure to sign some facsimile of your name. Actual name is best, but use what you like. Or email me at if you have difficulty.


Anonymous said...

Cooooool. That must have been amazing. The event here was great. Always been a big fan of clark's


gwynno said...

I agree with David Madgalene that it is indeed a good thing that so many people are writing poetry these days. There are many petals to this flower. One is that as we write our own poems, we often become curious about other people's work and we bcome part of a readership and an audience. Also, having worked with students from second grade through adulthood helping them write their own poems, I find that after creating their own poems, student poets become more revitalized, re-tuned and more broadly responsive than if they had simply read someone else's (usually a stranger and often a dead one) poem. Yes, we do write poems for ourselves, in order to: express thoughts, feelings, and perceptions; push through psychic and intellectual barriers; experiment with different musics; respond to the world and other people's work; recapture a time and place, and invent new ones. I find we also write poems to the dead and for the dead. When a voice has entered us like a parent's, or an uncle's or a teacher's, over time we send back our own poems, raising them over the earth to join the voices whirling overhead.

Ed fron nice Nice not in France but close enough said...

Hey Eddie you always have an audience for your thoughts. Problem is time and space. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately your vast audience, many annonymous don't conform to your schedule. I would suggest it may be because many of us lack time management skills or maybe like me just fail to retain acquired skills from our busy careers. After I retired I seem to have lost all my notes.

Please think of what you produce as not only a gift but also a part of eternity. I know I do. Or at least until the world is expected to end on December 21, 2012. Or is it the 31st? I really need to know this stuff because I am thinking of sending everyone I know expensive Christmas presents that year. That is if I still have a gold card and a balance I can max out. I want to commit a few last moment sins and hope there's an afterlife so I can show up to taunt all this folks that I witnessed screwing others including me during their lives.

Why am I rambling on about all this nonsense. Too much time on my feeble hands. And obviously I have a warped sense of humor among my other traits.

Nina Peach said...

No one reads poetry?

Are there too many poets writing and not enough readers? Is this new? I think perhaps the industry of producing poets is new - and should probably be dismantled and demolished and abolished. Not for the poets it produces, like so many Pez dispensers, but for the illusion it peddles that poetry is a "special and sacred Art " that only the learned and initiated can really understand. The People do not read poetry because we have taught them that they cannot understand poetry without extensive instruction in the Art of deconstruction. We have made poetry a chore. Full stop.

My Grandmother lived far away from any library or bookstore yet she devoured poetry and knew by heart many many poems. From Shakespearean Sonnets ... "That time of year thou mayst in me behold/ When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang/ Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,/ Bare ruin'd choirs, where late the sweet birds sang." – to Wordsworth – to the simple rhymes of the itinerant (and often illiterate) poets who came to recite in return for a place to sleep and a meal. And she wrote pO-Ems. Poems for special occasions. Poems of remembrance, of celebration, poems for children lost and of dreams turned. Poems to say what she couldn't bring herself to say any other way. We loved the words she wrote and listened uncritically. But they're gone now, gone to dust along with land she farmed.

Are there are too many poets and not enough readers? Don't know. But maybe we should just let the eight year old write his poem and recite it to us and tape it the fridge for all to see.

carl macki said...

I hear you. Not in lament but exultation