Thursday, July 2, 2009

Yenser Ham

I had a creative writing professor at UCLA by the name of Yenser. He used to host poetry readings at the Armand Hammer Museum. Yenser poetry readings were a little bit predictable. You were mostly sure to get a middle to upper class white person reading about angst and love and mental states in a certain cadence. The words came slow with lingering pauses between lines, the last syllable drawn out just so. There are beat poets and agit prop poets and spoken word poets and hip hop poets. Yenser poets are none of these. They are The Canon, they are The Laureates, their measure rocks the academies.

After attending a few of these readings it got so that I would read any text broken into lines as if it were Yenseresque. The habit has stuck. And now that I am on Twitter, the habit is reinforced. I mean, what is a poem anyway, if not a swath of impassioned prose with a specific set of boundaries? And Twitter? It is often impassioned prose with a fixed limit of 140 characters.

I'll prove my point.

Today, my friend Heather wrote about her near collision. I found myself reading it, from the bottom of the page to the top, in that old, familiar rhythm:

Well, I guess no 3-day weekend is complete without a call to 911, eh? A huge tire on it's side rolling at high speed directly at...

...freeway traffic. I didn't see it until the car in front of me suddenly swerved around it. I smoked my own tires big-time and had to......

serve hard not to get hit. I've now left a lively tire skid mark on the westbound I-10. :-P Scary stuff! Called 911.

The tire will probably fall over before the highway patrol gets there, but flat on the ground it's a danger too!

Er, swerve hard, not serve hard, but you follow me. That tires was going FAST! Must have fallen off the back of a truck or something.

I hate issues like that where I don't know if they are technically 911 issues.

A tire going head-on into oncoming traffic isn't as dangerous as a car doing the same, but everyone was swerving hard and smoking tires... avoid it. Close-calls everywhere as people dodged the tired. It was a horrible accident waiting to happen. And even when it finally

falls over it'll still be a road hazard. When 911 answered, I immediately told them I was calling for highway patrol to report...

...dangerous debris, and they immediately took my info, didn't tell me to call a non-emergency number, so hopefully I did the right thing.

Dear Heather, I am sure you did the right thing. What a terrifying situation! The I-10 is bad enough without extra rubber careening through the lanes, and that could have been a multi-car pileup waiting to happen.

And at the same time I think this, I have the frivolous sensation that I am back at the Armand Hammer watching some poet wearing mostly black (but distinguished black broken by scarves or wood beads strung by Aborigines) give the pre-martini show. Don't get me wrong. I loved these readings. But I always thought that perhaps we were a little bit silly. And Twitter, in its nascence, has proven me a little bit right.

1 comment:

  1. That's great! Now to take my "impassioned prose" on the road. See you at the next poetry slam! ;-)