“The principles of true art is not to portray, but to evoke.”
I am, admittedly, an art snob. I am pretentious, arrogant, and judgemental.
As such, I believe there is good art and bad art.
Now, in order to properly understand my piss-snobbery when it comes to art, you have to understand what I mean by ‘good’ and ‘bad’ art.
For me, good art is work that evokes an emotional response within the person experiencing it, no matter who that person is or what their life is about. Most folks can look at “Starry Night” by Van Gogh, or listen to Beethoven’s Ninth, or watch Sir Anthony Hopkins portray Hannibal Lector…and feel something. Whether or not that ‘something’ is what the artist intended is irrelevent. Good art should “evoke,” and the way most artists are able to achieve that evocative response is through years of work, study, and discipline. Passion and raw talent are important, but good art also requires the artist to maintain a deep respect for their chosen craft.
Conversely, bad art evokes nothing. It is immediately forgotten. It passes by your eyes and heart and leaves no trace of itself. It says nothing, and it evokes nothing. It requires no work, no discipline, and no self-respect. It has been my experience that most purveyors of truly bad art tend to be trendy posers who are more concerned with being an artist than actually doing the work of it. In other words, they really dig the clothes, but they don’t want to get any paint on their shoes.
Of course, my art snobness is most shrill when it comes to my chosen craft, which is poetry. Poetry is, to be sure, a dying artform that most people couldn’t give two craps about. I believe one of the reasons poetry has gone terminal is because much of the stuff being written today, well…sucks. It is non-evocative, undisciplined, narcissistic crap, and there tends to be little or no concern for metaphor or imagry or content. It is something to be ‘slammed’ instead of experienced. As someone who has proudly devoted decades of his freaking life to “chasing the poem,” as Buskowski described it, most of the stuff coming out today makes me wince. It is rambling, self-obsessed bullshit written hastily to impress other poets and win beer money.
In a sense, the current crappy state of poetry is a reflection of the times in which we live. This is the era of the Participation Trophy, wherein folks are rewarded for merely showing up. These days, what a person claims or believes about themself is considered their reality, as opposed to what they actually do or how they actually live. A kid graduates from high school and is shocked when they cannot be gifted with an upper-management position simply because it is what they want or feel they deserve. In the same way, a person can wake up one day and claim they are a ‘poet’ without having to do the work of it or even producing anything that resembles true poetry.
I get into a lot of trouble with people in the poetry community when I say this stuff, but it’s only because they secretly (or unconsciously) know that I’m right. Consider this:
I could wake up tomorrow and decide that I am a songwriter. I could go buy a guitar, and invite a bunch of folks to watch me play. The instant I start strumming away at a guitar I don’t know how to play and singing in a voice that has never sung before, I suspect the room would clear out very quickly. Not that I couldn’t spend a few years learning my instrument and eventually become a songwriter, but the current notion is that merely by stating I am one, I surely must be.
And that’s a load of crap.
Moreover, if I devoted thirty years to learning the guitar, today, I’d be Eric Clapton. I have devoted that much time to learning the craft of poetry, and I’ve gotten pretty good at it. If you don’t believe me, you can pick up a copy of my latest collection at the link below. Why, yes. That was a shameless plug for my new book. It’s a damn fine stack of poems, and I would hold it up to anything being produced today by anyone calling themself a poet. I defy anyone to read it cover-to-cover, and not cry a little, laugh a lot, or find a poem within its pages that you would think was written specifically for you.
So, yeah. I am, admittedly, an art snob. I am pretentious, arrogant, and judgemental.
Somebody’s gotta do it.
Jesus loves you and so do I,
To get a copy of my new stack o’ poems, go to the link: