Tuesday, April 17, 2007

My Life as a House: Poetry and Watching HGTV

There is a television program today called "Clean House" in which the subjects of a given episode are challenged by designer hosts to give up cherished but disused possessions such as vinyl record collections and abandoned hopes such as exercise equipment in favor of sentimental if obsolete notions such as traditional dining room furniture. That the program runs during the dinner hour belies the idea that the show is aimed at restoring a calm family life centered around food and conversation at the dinner table. Rather, it promulgates a fantasy of budget remodels in service of relaxation and enjoyment of relationships to an audience of work-addled zombies chomping on partially thawed french fries. Viewers can rejoice, "at least someone is getting their house cleaned."

Whether fantasy or call to conscience, such shows illustrate a belief conceived in the Sturm und Drang movement that the outside is a reflection of the inside and vice-versa. Poems, as such, act as a form of interior decorating for the mind. Pre-writing gets the junk out so the just the pretty furniture can be moved in. Is the mood right? Do the colors work? Is this the statement you want to be making? The process itself sets up an orderly mental atmosphere that just moments ago was overwhelmed and clogged with psychic chaos and clutter. In poems, we organize which memories will go into the album and which will go into the storage shed. Lots goes into the trash behind our backs by our own little subconscious designer hosts. The sense of the mind as a physically experienced environment seems embodied in the very usage of terms like "stanza" meaning "room" as one of the essential poetic units.

I hope that the reader's experience of poetry is more than a wishful fantasy, but rather an invitation to join in the mental house cleaning, the poet is host, "come over to my house, I've just cleaned and redecorated...and it didn't cost me a thing."


Bri said...

Poems as a form of interior decorating.... This is, indeed, well put.

Bri said...

and cleaning house with the poet herself is a much more appealing niche to occupy.