All Poetics is Local


Having just completed my most recent video upload to YouTube, and turning to the task of noting here that I’ve done so, this is as good a moment as will likely come, to make the following commitment to this blog and the wandering online wayfarers who encounter it serially or for the first (and one hopes not last) time. From now on, these posts will have less to do with politics and more to do with art.

I make this pledge out of the same respect I feel, and for the same individual, as the sentiment expressed in the words: “Spiritual solutions to political problems through artistic means”. It is the credo and creativity business plan of Charles Potts, and it follows closely the spirit of the short vid I just uploaded to YouTube.com. In it, Yakima poet, publisher and educator, Jim Bodeen reads Charles’ poem, “Mentor”. I found the clip while going back over the tapes from the working trip I took across a substantial part of the United States in November-December of 2007. The words of the poem weave themselves through the trellis of memories I brought away with me like fragrant blossoms of rose and wisteria, reminding me that my large and far-flung “tribe”, the word Charles chose to end the poem, is not only out there, but very much in here, in me, at the same time.

In everything I write here from now on, I will try to reveal an extent to which that acceptance of spiritual hereness and nowness has produced, and is producing, the thoughts and memories the reader will find here, recognizing that any tribe is just an extension of family, with a wider abrazo. It is a spirit captured by Ray Obermayr in his most recent and, to me, his most remarkable painting, “Scout Mountain in a Rainbow”.

Obermayr's Rainbow

The painting was unfinished when I stayed with Ray and Maggie, en route to Boise and, ultimately, back to Seoul, but Ray was attacking it with a vigor and skill that laughed in the face of his 85 years. That’s 85 years that, merely two decades into it, could have come to the same tragic end as it did for thousands of his contemporaries and comrades, bogged down on the invasion beaches of Normandy on D-Day. It was a life-defining experience of the sort that too many young men have had, and continue to have, because of the failures of humanity. It shaped Ray Obermayr into the man, artist and poet who wrote this poem to lead off a night of readings at the recent Rocky Mountain Writers’ Festival:

Vita
I was born in 1922
Of natural causes
And it took me 85 years
To get this old
I am an artist, poet, atheist,
And Democratic Socialist
May I ask
Who are you?

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