Thursday, January 22, 2009

To Write and Read. Two Different Things?

"The poet doesn't have a feel for words. "

Currently, I am trying to get myself published i.e. in journals/websites etc. One poem at a time though. I am not doing it for recognition or what, but then again, a question pops in my mind:do we all write for ourselves first and then for the readers? Or is it the other way around? Do we write to read or to perform? To be read or to be heard?

Aiyo, I think I am in a little bit of a predicament. I remember the first time doing slam, and how the audience responds to words that are simple, entertaining and direct. Try to be philosophical and you'll lose them half way. Try to be too serious and you'll bore them out. Try to be too emotional with words and they'll start running from one end to the other, stomping their feet as loud as possible. It's quite physical and daunting, this slam. But of course, I am referring to ones done here in Kuala Lumpur.

I also remember the earlier defensive mode I've opted regarding performance poetry i.e. how by the end of it all, you do not want to write poems only to please a group of people for 5 minutes. Do we have to sacrifice other aspects of poetry when we perform it? I don't know. What I do know is that if you insert references of sex, violence, a few slang words and hey, make them laugh.. well, you have a winning poem in your hands.I know I am generalising things but it does happen around here. Still, is that a bad thing? I don't know.

Delving in slams and performance poetry leaves me a tad confused now that I am planning to put my head into poetry as a possible source of means. It doesn't help that I've been asked to reconsider my 'poetical path' by one serious scholar of literature. His advise was simple:

"Start writing seriously, first. Once you've been commended and acknowledged by the best of them, you can continue with the performing part confidently."

Who are 'them' anyways? Oh well, I wonder if there is a distinctive line between serious poetry and popular poetry. Do we have to be acknowledged by the ones widely accepted as 'good' in order to make sense in poetry? I am sure my friends and I, and the rest of the poets out there write not because we want to but because we NEED to. Poetry is more than just words written on paper to us. The world simply makes more sense through it, and we just want to share this knowledge with the rest. Or do we? And what about you? Do you understand poetry more through listening/watching or reading it? Do you have to be scholars in order to 'get it'?

I don't know lah. But I'll try again.

7 poetic mutterings:

Baronhawk said...

Dear Sheena,

Interesting post. I can relate to this. I am on a journey to transcend my current love affair of writing as well and develop it into... something.. I dunno, a higher art form? a means of subsistence? But as you have posted here I too am trapped by my poetry being more of my means of expression. As such, sometimes it is for no one, sometimes only for a specific individual or group, other times its for me and me alone. But I guess when you perform you have to take your audience into consideration. And find a middle ground between your expression and their expectation. To make ends meet and be acceted on stage as maketable, I suppose, one has to follow the popular culture wave. Reserving the more serious works for the printed page and those more scholarly. But like you I was told by someone well established in the realm of literature with his works in print and being used as an instructional medium to teach literature:

"Unless you get serious with your own writing, know one else will take your writing seriously, and why should they?"

Maybe if we want to move forward we need to learn to take the serious approach to the art of writing and crafting our pieces to cater to the various audience or just one big universal one. But it does seem like selling out. Or maybe THAT is the process... that one must go though to make it in our chosen vocation.

That being said we probably should cater to the more popular and rewarding (moneywise anyhow) realm of short story writing. The MPH thingy, and ZI publication is also receiving witings for Dina Zaman's "I Am Muslim Too" and their "May 13th" book.

Sheena Baharudin said...

Yes, that we shall do! :)

EnciKSediL said...

Eventhough, a wild feeling of "i'm not in a place to say anything" paranoia is threatening me... i guess i just feel the need to write something about your post...

I can safely say that i subscribe to your view... I honestly think that we all at first, write for ourselves...(am still in this stage. As much as I would want people to accept my works as they are, i cannot force people to like them... Well, i am not in the stage of trying to make a living out of my writings (basically, low self esteem plus have not even finished my degree yet...). Truthfully you cannot please everybody... So i'll just settle with pleasing myself... Sound narcissistic doesn't it? But i do wanna know what people think about my works...
And thank you, if i remember correctly i got a B from you... or something like that... LOL!

Sheena Baharudin said...

goodness asdil,

ignore the paranoia lah, i'm glad to read about your opinions regarding this :)

ps: i am reading ur poems as we speak!

EnciKSediL said...

omg! omg! u so don't need to... *blush*

jsamlarose said...

Hey Sheena– it'd be good to see a couple of your recent poems... Anything you can send me?

Sheena Baharudin said...

Hi Jacob. Nice to hear from ya! :) Yeah, I do have a few. I'll send it to your email yar? :)