Marty Goldstein

Some people might call poetry a plebeian art. Others condemn it as being too esoteric. Most people, I think, would rather it simply went away and left them alone. Personally, I can understand the great majority’s disgust with poetry only so far as I can understand their love of the banal excuses that are offered up to them as art, and for which they clamor eagerly and daily. Perhaps the problem of poetry then is elitism: The elitism of the mind that convinces itself through its own mental rejuvenation, that indeed the record of itself is important. For what purpose? Is there a poetry that will change the world—or a poet? The question is moot, and the answer is obviously and implacably nonexistent. But regardless of the question, the dynamic of poetry lives on in countless numbers of hearts—searching for an expression, a detail, an image that will realize something—whether it is profound, or mundane, or luminous, or spiritual, or even trite. There are poets trying to see something—themselves, or others—in the midst of the vulnerability of their existence.

For me, poetry is a parody. It is a parody of life as we filter it through our eyes. It is a parody of ourselves as we try to recreate our vision of existence; it is the revealing self-portrait that we cannot avoid. The most difficult thing for the poet is to see through himself at the same time as he is engrossed in being. The poet is like the dramatic actor without a stage or live audience. He must be able to create the pose, and believe the pose at the same time that he sees right through it. It is the great parodox of life that the one thing we can be certain of is our is our imminent demise. And what I really want out of poetry is that the word, or the turn of a phrase back on itself, or the parody of a common cliché, or the pierce of a powerful image evoke something memorable, or something real, or something evanescent, or even something distinctly transitory—but above all it must evoke something living.

As for me, I will pretend to profundity, since that is the closest we can come to truth, if indeed there is such a thing (I think not). What tools we have been given only atrophy from disuse, and words suffer from inattention. I want to pay greater attention to the ground. I want to listen for the subways and hear the pounding of buffalo hooves at the same time, and know what that means. I want to understand the detail and its mood and its meaning, all within the context of the poem. I wsant to know what time it is, and why. I want to know more about this place, that’s all.

Where I got these notions, no one, not even I, really knows. I was born in Los Angeles, but I take no responsibility for it. I was educated here in America, and hold a higher degree or two, although I take only small pleasure in that fact. Philosophy was my first love, until I found that language can also be fun. I have had numerous careers which have kept food on the table, and regret only the fact that there is not enough time to do more. Currently, when not writing poetry or plays, I make money as a carpenter and cabinetmaker. I make my home in a cabin in the Mayacama Mountains, northeast of Santa Rosa. All in all, I consider that I am a very rich man, though you couldn’t tell by the size of my bank account. Poverty is a state of mind for most of the people in this land of plenty. i only wish that the poor elsewhere in the world could have it as well as we do.