Today is the 80th birthday of Philip Glass, the most famous, influential, and revered modern American composer, perhaps the most notable living composer in the world. I've been listening to his music since midnight during a marathon played by a radio station I like, and contemplating him in all of his many forms.
If you didn't know, I compose music as well, and also toured around for a while in a band back in my stupid days. I still toy with music now and again... it's really so different from writing, and such a welcome relief sometimes.
Before Philip Glass and the rise of minimalism, I feel a lot of music wasn't sure where to go, and was often unnecessarily complex. Glass distilled his thoughts into simple rhythms and melodies that pulses in waves, and most of the time, when listening to one of his pieces, it's obvious it's his.
I've been writing a lot of poetry lately, and I would like to say it's a lot more like composing music than prose is. Here, it's also about rhythm and melody.
You know, I didn't write poetry for many years, except for a brief burst when I wrote a poem about my friend in grief, "Evil Summer", which can be found on Amazon. Then I took a break again. But about a year ago I guess I started recording myself reading those poems, and that just kind of avalanched in writing poems again.
Sometimes I find it easier to write poetry.
Glass set out to make music that was impossible simple, where melody was obvious. I suppose I try to do the same thing in my poetry. Sure, I admit I can get a bit obscure and clustered in some of my metaphors, but I don't sustain that kind of density, and most of the time, I keep things simple.
There's a poetry contest I'm aiming for right now, The Emily Dickinson Award, which is not annual but more kind of random, for $10k, and publishing, etc. I'm trying to finish my latest epic poem for this project. The only problem, really, is I anticipate the poem being about 150 pages, where their limit is 88 pages. I'm hoping they'l forgive me when encountering the quality of the poem, and the necessity of its subject matter.