Inside the Newsroom

News, commentary, insight on local happenings and fun from the staff of The Saline Reporter and Milan News-Leader.

Monday, April 11, 2011

I Can't Fight this Feeling Anymore

On Tuesday night I covered a poetry reading by the author Saleem Peeradina, who is an associate professor of English at Sienna Heights University down in Adrian. Before going I looked up a few of Peeradina poems trying to get a feel for what I was going to be hearing that night.

I only found a few that were available to read online, so I went into the reading basically a complete novice on the man and his poetry. I knew he was from India and that he had been writing poetry in English for decades, but I knew nothing really of his style or subject matter.

After looking back on the evening and reflecting on my gut reactions I have come to the decision that it really didn’t matter. A lot of art takes times to digest, but listening to the author read his work with some insight on how it came to fruition meant that I got a very good feel for what he was trying to get across.

I think this mostly stems from the fact that Peeradina’s poetry comes across like a large majority of the “media” or “art that I digest on a daily basis. Personally, the media that hits me the most and leaves the most lasting impression usually has a very specific quality. The piece (whether it’s an album, movie, book, poem, etc.) has its own personal nature and story, but also provides a critique about some sort of culture or even society as a whole.

To me, this shows the utmost of skill in the writer or auteur. Not to say I don’t enjoy things that aren’t this far-reaching, but I just think that works such as these stand out above the rest. Nor am I saying that after listening to Peeradina’s reading that I consider him to be the world’s greatest poet; it just evoked something within me that hadn’t been stirred in quite some time.

Being at the reading inspired me. It inspired me to write poetry for God’s sake which I haven’t done since the summer of 2009 when I was living by myself in Traverse City and I would go out to the beach at night and tap poems into my iPod. But I had just finished reading “Big Sur” by Jack Kerouac where he did this throughout most of the book (along with slowly killing himself with alcohol.)

But sitting in that little room at the Saline library I all of a sudden had the urge to sit down and start writing creatively again. Little lines starting coming to me in my head as I was sitting there listening to the poetry. I began to think of novels and screenplays, long gestating in the annals of my brain with absolutely no place for them to go.

Something else happened to me while listening to Peeradina. He said a couple of things that struck me very personally although he was talking to the whole room. “I am very self-critical,” he said, and also, said something to the effect that he tries not to use too many words and that that is something of a curse brought on by American writers.

Both of those things hold true to me, that I too am very self-critical (I think all of my creative writing: poems, short stories, screenplays, whatever are garbage even though they probably aren’t that bad) and as you can probably tell by this rambling thing, I use too many words. But I mean I did just cite Kerouac, the King of stream-of-conscience writing, so maybe I should lay the blame on him.

Kevin's face after reading his own creative writing

But I haven’t read Kerouac in years, so the other obvious author that I have fawned over as an aspiring writer and self-appointed “deep thinker” is Kurt Vonnegut. More so than Kerouac, Vonnegut’s writing very much does what I wrote about at the beginning of this piece. The most simple of Vonnegut’s sentences can say more about humanity than I could in lets see, 850 words. He also uses potty-language and drawings which as a man-child I thoroughly enjoy as well.

Kevin's face after finishing "Breakfast of Champions" by Kurt Vonnegut

So what I am trying to get at here is that you shouldn’t let your spirit of creativity die. Whether you once thought of yourself as a creative in a different lifetime but have been toiling away as an engineer for the past 30 years, or if you’ve never written anything in your life, I have a suggestion for you:

Go to a poetry reading, or a book reading, or a movie that isn’t designed to be enjoyed with your brain switched to “off” and instead makes you think about yourself and where you sit in this crazy world. Maybe it’ll get those creative juices flowing.

Or maybe it wont, I don’t know, I’m obviously rambling, but it definitely won’t be a waste of your time.

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