I’ve spent the last year or so writing a poetry book. I’ve posted some of the material here, and some quietly sits on my hard drive patiently awaiting the un-appointed day. As I’ve been honing in on the actual plans for the book, there’s a part of me that’s just a bit unsettled.
These poems—they are certainly designed to bring companionship to this crazy mixed up journey of life. And my hope is, that by reading them, you, my gentle reader, will somehow relate and find solace in that someone else relates. Or at least find a succinct articulation for your own feelings. But, beyond that, or perhaps because of that, these pieces are personal, intimate portraits of my soul. And it has just struck me, that I am selling it. My soul…for money.
And it’s not just poetry. It’s most of the things that I write, or the important things anyway. Good writers reach deep inside, and pull out the very essence of what it means to be human, and bleed it out onto a page, defining and articulating this experience under the sun. The best ones, the ones that endure centuries, and produce exquisite works that plague high school students for centuries, those are the writers that have shamelessly bared their souls for time and humanity at large. They have stood, naked, before the world, and invited them to analyze, critique and discuss every nook and cranny of what they may find. And some of these critics, many in fact, are not so kind.
But, in these writers’ bravadoes, they have, for the sake of us all, laid out, in glaring picas and fonts, what it means to be human. What it means to feel, to love, to hurt, to lose and to breathe…deeply the stuff of life.
And it’s not just writers. It’s all artists. Alanis Morrissette did a music video where she simply walked naked through the streets of New York, and no one noticed. It was a metaphor for how her music was her bared soul, and it’s just treated as a casual soundtrack, background noise on a bus. I love it. (But I do find Ms. Morrissette a bit melodramatic in this sense. I mean, really, who can feel sorry for a multi-platinum recording artist, on the fact that everyone knows her music?!)
Andy Warhol came to the conclusion that once a person bought his works, it was no longer his. It became whatever the buyer envisioned for it. So, when Bob Dylan walked into his studio, bought the most expensive painting there, and turned it into a dartboard, Warhol just laughed. Well, I’m not that secure, or vain, whatever that is…If I heard someone were using my book as a dartboard, or packing material, I don’t know that I would quite recover.
Which, brings me to artistic ownership. As patrons, we partake in works of art, whether they be visual art, music, literature…and we throw at them, or their legacies, the $12.99 or so they may ask. When we are done, we discard them to rot on a bookshelf. Trophies of literary prowess, books we’ve “had,” to show off.
And how is that so different from prostitution?