Wednesday, October 9, 2019

A Manifesto-Introduction to (Soma)tic Poetry Rituals

"CAConrad's poems invite the reader to become an agent in a joint act of recovery, to step outside of passivity and propriety and to become susceptible to the illogical and the mysterious."
         --Tracy K. Smith, New York Times 

Every single human being is creative. If our creativity is an organ, we need to start thinking of it as a vital one. When we commit ourselves to nurture our artistic capacities, we improve our ability to more deeply discern the world around us and make the effective decisions needed to thrive in this world. When Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge,” he was asking us to understand how bringing new ideas we create for the world is always more important than stagnating under templates of previous paradigms.
           I come from factory workers, people who work long, exhausting days. The factories disturbed me as a child because everyone seemed unhappy, and I wanted another kind of life as a writer. Very early, I observed how my family became extensions of machinery at their jobs for most of their waking hours, and the toll that took on their physical and emotional lives. To cope, they developed a technique of turning off the present at work, keeping their minds in the past, or thinking about the future. The problem with such a mechanism, though, is that they cannot easily switch it off after going home. When you are raised by people who have lost the present, it may take a long time to recognize what has happened, and then when you do you will need more time to discover a way of recovering the present, and for me, that is where (Soma)tic poetry rituals come in.
           These rituals are so odd and focused that they create an extreme present, meaning that I cannot possibly think about anything except what I am doing. To anchor myself in the present, my body is essential to persist in feeling the time I am living while writing. Each ritual is a choice to become and remain present.
           I cannot stress enough how much this mechanistic world, as it becomes more and more efficient, resulting in ever-increasing brutality, has required me to FIND MY BODY to FIND MY PLANET in order to find my poetry. If I am an extension of this world then I am an extension of garbage, shit, pesticides, bombed and smoldering cities, microchips, cyber, astral and biological pollution, BUT ALSO the beauty of a patch of unspoiled sand, all that croaks from the mud, talons on the cliff that take rock and silt so seriously flying over the spectacle for a closer examination is nothing short of necessary. The idlest looking pebble will suddenly match any hunger, any rage. Suddenly, and will be realized at no other speed than suddenly.
           The last large wild beasts are being hunted, poisoned, asphyxiated in one way or another, and the transmission of their wildness is dying, taming. A desert is rising with this falling pulse. It is our duty as poets and others who have not lost our jagged, creative edges to FILL that gap and RESIST the urge to subdue our spirits and lose ourselves in the hypnotic beep of machines, of war, and the banal need for power, and things. With our poems and creative core, we must RETURN THIS WORLD to its seismic levels of wildness.
           The aim of (Soma)tic poetry and poetics is the realization of two fundamental ideas: (1) Everything around us has creative viability with the potential to spur new modes of thought and imaginative output. (2) The most vital ingredient to bringing sustainable, humane changes to our world is creativity, and this can be enacted daily.
           Something I have learned while teaching (Soma)tic rituals for over a decade is that when people find themselves stuck, no longer able to write, paint, dance, these rituals build a bridge back to that essential, more daring and innovative part of themselves. It is absolutely necessary, right now, at this very moment, to embrace our creativity. No matter who you are, having a daily creative practice can expand your ability to form the crucial questions we need to be asking ourselves about how to change the destructive direction we are all currently headed together on our tiny planet. If you used to paint, paint again. If you used to write poems, start writing again. The potential magic of this world requires our participation. I’m not a motivational speaker; I’m a poet. I’m not an optimist; I simply believe in the possibilities of our collective genius.