January 14, 2005

Poetry and Art in the Museum of the Living Artist

by Michael Klam

What if Charles Bukowski had bought a membership to Gold’s Gym instead of staying up all night drinking wine and writing poetry to the music of Dmitry Shostakovich? What if the Beat Poets had become disciples of Ezra Pound and TS Eliot instead of reacting to the dense intellectualism of esoteric verse? What if Jackson Pollock never explored the virtues of splatter? What if poetry and art never shifted their ground, never sought out new modes of expression?

Cutting edge poetry and art programs in American and European universities now offer coursework in spoken word poetry and graffiti art. Young writers and academics are as interested and inspired by the winner of the National Poetry Slam as they are by William Carlos Williams or Denise Levertov. There has been a growing cross-fertilization between classic poetry and spoken word from the streets since the days of uncle Walt Whitman.

The quarterly event, Poetry and Art, in the Museum of the Living Artist is all about cross-fertilization, not just stylistic variations, but also across artistic mediums: poets who paint, photographers who write short stories, spoken word artists who make short films, musicians and writers inspired by visual art and vice versa. This next Poetry and Art event features the editor of Poetry International, Fred Moramarco, and Cecil Hayduke, moderator of the San Diego Poetry Slam at Voz Alta.

Moramarco is a professor in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at San Diego State University. He is a poet and anthologist who edited and co-authored the recently published “The Poetry of Men’s Lives: An International Anthology.” Hayduke is a lawyer and a punk at the helm of the Anarchist Think Tank, San Diego’s most radical and explosive group of underground poets. Hayduke lists as his primary inspiration “the transgressive art of outsiders, be it punk rock, the Beats, Rimbaud, or Lenny Bruce.”

Moramarco has written several scholarly articles on the relationship between painting and poetry, and he has integrated poems and paintings in all of his literature classes.

On February 2, Moramarco will present “The Opposite Eye,” a series of poems in response to paintings such as Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida’s “My Daughter Maria at La Granja,” William Bouguereau’s “The Young Shepherdess,” Picasso’s “La Vie,” Vuillard’s “Under the Trees” and “The Café Wepler,” as well as Paul Gauguin’s “The Large Tree.” Moramarco’s presentation will include these images projected on the big screen and the voice of poetry in dialogue with art.

For Hayduke, there’s an underlying absurdity in calling oneself a poet. “The whole idea that I am a poet is a hoax,” he said. “Most poets don’t think about hacking or subversion in their attempts to reach out. In fact, most of them don’t think much farther than their own navels. People and poets need to purge their philosophies daily and think again.” Hayduke’s purpose for the night will be to provoke thought and to attack complacency.

Both Moramarco and Hay-duke agree that good art comes from many disciplines. They both pay homage and develop their crafts by studying their predecessors. “No one writes, paints, or undertakes any art in a vacuum. If you’re serious about your art you want to learn all you can about it—you want to study those who have been masters at it,” says Mora-marco.

Hayduke reminds us that Bukowski was a postal work-er, Lou Reed was a junkie, Edward Abbey was... well... Edward Abbey. “I’m not anti-academia, but regarding art - I think the good stuff comes from experiences outside the academy,” he says.

Poetry and Art is a quarterly series dedicated to giving people an opportunity to express themselves in a variety of artistic forms and styles. It is a free speech event with the purpose of exposing the diversity and the greatness of our region’s artists. Audiences will hear poetry and prose in dialogue with painting, photography, sculpture and other art forms. The two featured artists serve as an inspiration for developing artists. The open mic portion of the show is for all artists and performers to strut their stuff. There will be music throughout, performed by Israel Maldonado (guitar) and Shannon Bates (saxophone).

Come join us on Wednesday, February 2 at 6:30 pm in the Museum of the Living Artist at Balboa Park. Contact Michael Klam at 619-225-8191, klamshak@cox.net, or Kerstin Robers at 236-0011.   

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