Monday, December 11, 2006

'Tis the Season

I go about in my own little world, up here in the grayness that is San Francisco. I just jumped about a foot at a knock at the door -- the postman leaving a package I ordered (books for my son, AI and programming). Very heavy scent of cologne when I opened the door, even though the postman was already down the steps and jumping into his truck. Anyway, the books -- not the postman or his cologne -- reminded me of a conversation at a party yesterday. I was conversing with a physicist. He asked me what I did and I could have said, should have said, maybe, that I'm a technical writer and editor, but I said I was a poet. The next question is usually, "What kind of poetry do you write?" But this time, it was whether I was published. I said yes, and he asked me if I was in any publication he had heard of, like the New Yorker. Once we established that I was not in any publication he had heard of, he said he doesn't read poetry. He tried once or twice. He tried to read "The Wasteland" and couldn't get it.

I really want a good answer when some stranger puts me in the position of defending poetry, especially when they use Eliot as a weapon. I tried asking if he gets all the music he might listen to. I said if he just experienced the poetry he would get something out of it -- and why worry about "getting" everything. I said I thought part of the problem was one's high school teacher and all those papers that had you discuss three metaphors in XYZ and how they relate to the theme of death and resurrection in ... Oh, then he asked what my poetry was about. But we didn't get much further than that in the conversation. I joined a friendly group discussing photography, jazz, Hawaii, and various hilarious episodes about marijuana and flying.

Well, the season is in full swing (plugged in and running on its own momentum, as I said to someone in email). I'm both oddly calm and very tense (see above, jumping a foot) at the same time. Still waiting to hear about my manuscript in "early December." But I've already accepted that it will be a no go, so why should I be tense?

John's photography got a wonderful reception from the Opera hierarchy, but no date for a show yet.

Tomorrow is the twelfth day of the twelfth month. What does that mean? Haven't the faintest, but I'd be careful around noon, if I were you.

10 comments:

Robert said...

Your postman read "The Waste Land"? You live in a pretty impressive neighborhood! He should have started with "Prufrock" and gone on to "Four Quartets" and then tried "The Waste Land" before giving up on Eliot. And don't forget "Cats." It's like saying you tried bird's nest soup and decided you didn't like Chinese food.

Diane K. Martin said...

No, it was the physicist at the party that read The Wasteland. And he did say he liked "Cats."

Robert said...

Ah, but according to string theory and quantum physics, the postman and the physicist are one! Or else I read too quickly.

Anne said...

You should've told him you didn't really "get" physics either, and that you rather suspect physicists of making it all up and using imaginary words. I mean, come on ... "quark"??

Diane K. Martin said...

Anne, I like that! I can never think of clever things when I need to.

Robert said...

I can't remember what physicist named the quark, but he got the word from Finnegans Wake. And your physicist had a problem with Eliot?

Diane K. Martin said...

Hey, he weren't mine... I'm not responsible!

Anonymous said...

Rosellen Brown told me that she was once at a dinner party where she was sitting next to a neurosurgeon. When the neurosurgeon found out that she was a novelist, he said that he was considering taking a sabbatical in order to write a novel. She said something like, "That's interesting. I've been considering taking a year off from writing in order to do neurosurgery."

As she commented, once in a while you say the right thing at the right time.

Anonymous said...

At least one physicist had a poetic bent (was poetically bent?). Do y'all know the different flavors of quarks? Okay, first of all, flavors? Up, down, strange, charm, bottom, top. Who but a poet would name some arcane, theoretical partical strange and charm and then call them flavors?

Plus, physicists have a theory about quantum entanglement. It is my current favorite theory. Maybe on earth.

Diane K. Martin said...

Yes, and this guy said he has "an analytical mind." You would think he'd love "The Wasteland." Lord knows people have analyzed that to pieces.