Markk Kuhar: Interview and Sampling of Poetry – Part 2
i own the world at four o’clock in the morning
quarter moon drops down
into a faded yellow smile slice
the night is calm as acoustic guitar music
threadbare notes fingerpicked sweetly
on the shoulders of the wet wind
on the water’s edge i can see
the heads of turtles poke up
through the ripples, mouths moving
songs like soundless terrapin anthems
no one knows what goes on down here
about the simple magic
beside this brooding sullen lake
safe in locked houses, on couches
or in quiet beds sleeping soundly
i own the world at four o’clock
in the morning & i’m
desperate not to share it with
anyone else, except, maybe you
In this section of our interview, I wanted to know more about markk’s thoughts on evolving as a poet, poetry in education and making change in society.
Working as a Poet
J: How can a poet work to become better?
I think reading and writing are the only way. If you read a lot, you know what has been done before, and if you write a lot, you get in touch with your own personal resonance, which results in the establishment of your own voice. Once you get in touch with your own voice, you’re there.
J: Who are your favorite poets?
J: markk, do you sing? Have you ever put your poetry to music?
Oh yes, I sing in my own Dylanesque warble. Never set my poems to music, I just write my own lyrics and keep the two separate. I did put a James Wright poem to music once, it sounded great, like some primitive Native American chant.
J: Do you think that writing poetry is a talent that can be learned?
Sure, but you have to feel it. I don’t think anyone can force poetry. I know some people who are poets but are not aware of it. When they talk or write, their communication is a kind of poetry.
white dog in a cemetery at dawn
i see a white dog move
with lucid grace between the
marble headstones, stops
to sniff at a weed-covered slab,
frozen, listens to something
between the rows that stand
in stark & mute silence
then sprints off toward the north
paws all akimbo & fur flying
i see the dog disappear
into a grove of oak trees
roots buried a thousand feet deep
leaves shivering in the cold air
the sun in searing curvature
on the fault line of immortal earth
Poetry in Education
J: I know you’ve worked with children. Can you say something about that? Age groups, kinds of activities, responses.
Oh, it’s a passion of mine. Children are often genius poets. They naturally have perception and voice, until education stomps it out of them, and forces them to into rhyming iambic pentameter. We need to feed their heads, encourage them to go into wild mind and just write.
J: In general, are you in favor of teaching poetry in schools? If so, are there any poets you’d personally select for young teenagers?
Poetry should be required study. But it should be taught as the true middle way between nursery rhymes and the romantic poets. Somewhere in there, the Beats turned language into a glorious personal expression, and that’s what we should be teaching. Give the kids crazy poems to read, and tell them to open their hearts and blast away. Free verse is freedom.
J: As an educator, I believe in bringing Spoken Word to classes, whenever applicable. As you remember, I brought a poem of yours to a 12th grade class in recorded format. And they’d never heard anything like you, before! It would have been ideal to have you there. Have you been invited to perform in schools?
How cool! No, I have not performed other than to maybe read a poem while I am teaching a poetry class.
J: Does the idea of running an open mic in schools interest you? Could you give some pros and cons?
Oh, I think that would be great. When I teach poetry in a class, it always involves reading their poetry, and some kids just have a gift, others just read without emotion and others are laughing so hard they can’t get through it. The only cons are, you have to give them ground rules. I found if you don’t they will start writing mean or embarrassing thing about their classmates!
Popularity of Poetry
J: Do you think that poetry has become more popular over the years?
Well, with the Internet, it’s more accessible, thus more popular. You can read poetry, read about poetry, listen to it being read and watch videos of performance poetry, so that makes the experience so much more active.
J: I find you a very inspiring energetic force in the world of poetry. You’ve created a locus of interest in the town of Cleveland and the waves reach shores all over the planet. Do you have any advice for someone who wants to focus energy on their own poetic area, whether geographic or thematic?
Thank you for your kind words. Yes, there are some areas that are poetry hotbeds, such as New York or San Francisco, and thus those places are fertile creative locations. But there are many other places that are deserts, there is little cultural expression, no groups or live readings. I would encourage anyone with a passion for poetry to start a study group, a live reading, spontaneous street theatre, anything to generate local poetic energy. You will change your community, and you may rile a few people up, which is good!
J: Any final comments?
We need the next generation of poets to speak up and use their words as the soundtrack to the quantum leap forward of the human race.
J: “Speak up and use your words as the soundtrack to the quantum leap forward of the human race” –
Listen up, poets! There’s a quantum leap out there with your name on it. Read that leap into existence.
Thank you, markk. It’s always amazing to hear you, to fly together with your collage poet mind, and to ruminate on your energized full palm invitations to live a more attuned life.
All the best to you.
- For more of markk’s poems, click here.
- For more of markk’s artwork, click here.
- Keep in touch with markk’s activities at deep.cleveland.com
For Part 1 of this interview, click here.