Saturday, February 14, 2009

Meat Poets for Vegetarians

"We were the Meat poets, baby. We got down to the bone. levy, Doug Blazek in Chicago, Ole, some pretty good writing came out of that period. Not like today. Too many out there with too little to say. --Charles Bukowski

I like the meat poets. I like that macho stuff, which in theory might seem strange since I'm all pro-women and vegetarian. But I like it, always have. The viseral directness, the knowing where you stand next to it. The challenge of it, even. The realness, the poetic use of everyman's language, the black coffee and beer at 2 AM slap in the face of it. The struggle.

The struggle against the female. "The Meat School of Poets was engaged in an all-out war with The Female," said Bukowski. There is a bumbling force to this struggle against something as complex as the Feminine, which feels frank and honest.

Is there room for a woman in the Meat School? Maybe Braverman, who I mentioned in an earlier post. Is it a battle of the sexes, or about language, about being red-meat raw and exposing, speaking something real and stripping away the florid? About not using swear words to get off, that's where meat-school-wanna-be's get stupid, but to express if that's what's most real?

Is a Meat Poet a Beat Poet with a little extra swagger and a little extra cynicism, 20 years later?

It is interesting to notice female poets with this type of swagger are often deemed "unstable" while the men are rugged-glamourous. The women immortalized for their victim, tragic fall status and the men for their charging through, dumb blunt fall status. Maybe some of the best language comes out of rugged-glamour, thrown off the deep end, a burning star on it way out? The trick is to know how to catch your light and boomerang it back into creativity, keep the cycle going. Touch the center of things, and come up to tell about it.

As my writing mentor said, "We're a different generation of women writers" than the Plaths and the Sextons, who were as meaty as Meat Poets, but an ill-fit in their world at their time. Its not like Plath wasn't a little macho, talking about 2 am emotions and swaggering through kitchens and throwing dissatisfactions off burning roofs. But the page couldn't hold her, the emotions eventually looping back into herself where they were too big to live. The Meat Poets spewed and let go beautifully well, let the page soak up what was there, and kept staggering on.