If we assume that there is, in fact, still natural places to go and find comfort, real physical places that exist in the present world of the future, then we can safely assume that at least some of the inspirations will be similar between then and now. We all draw on the world around us in one way or another and we all have little hidey holes that we escape to, places where we feel safe from that which bumps in the dark.  In his poem, Poem (very apt), Thomas McGarth captures the tension between the place that’s idealized as ‘was’ and the now.  We can feel a longing for the safety from the first lines ‘I don’t belong in this century—who does? / In my time, summer came someplace in June— / The cutbanks blazing with roses, the birds / brazen, and the astonished / Pastures frisking with young calves . . . / That was in the country— / I don’t mean another country, I mean in the country: /And the country is lost. I don’t mean just lost to me…’ Ahh, to be someplace warm that reeks of grass and cows.

Inspiration can also be drawn from hose environments that are most hostile, most frightening.  McGarth nods here as well ‘Now, down below, in the fire and stench, the city / Is building its shell: elaborate / levels of emptiness / Like some sea-animal building toward its extinction.’ His lines communicate a feeling of fear, unredeemable loss, and a stark realization: the land that was is no more and will never be coming back.  Facing the fear and making it part of ourselves makes us each stronger and allows for a huge range of expression.  We can move from the fear, which is often the end of everything if it’s strong enough, and chronical the movement from all encompassing locking terror to liberation and realization.  Wouldn’t that be an interesting set of poems?

If the poets of ten years from today are right now only children, their experiences with the virtual world would be very different than those of older adult people.  There’s a deep interaction between young people and screen, social media, online solace where they can be whoever they want and find the confidence to do so.  In ten years those young people could be poets of their own, and find their safe spots so totally foreign to those of us that grew up sans iPod as to bewilder audiences.  Of course, the same poem that those new poets write will find a whole new generation, theirs, and connect with them on a level that may be overlooked or misunderstood by more conventional environment.

Poetry has been impacted by virtual environments because there’s a whole new realm for poetry to explore. Games have storylines and characters, ripe with plots that can easily be parlayed into a poem.  Poems are shared in virtual spaces and came become a global event in a matter of moments, if displayed in the lucky place and viewed by enough adoring fans (of haters, either way.) We can see ourselves on a large scale, attached by millions of bits and bites to hundreds of millions of people… everywhere.  Not metaphorically everywhere, but actually.. Everywhere.  Heck, there’s satellite internet in Antarctica.  So the scientists can watch cat videos and read the poems of all the 10 years from now poets.




Sarah Ockershausen Delp



Thomas McGrath, “Poem” from The Movie at the End of the World: Collected Poems, published by Swallow Press/Ohio University Press. Copyright © 1972 by Thomas McGrath. Reprinted by permission of Copper Canyon Press.

Source: The Movie at the End of the World: Collected Poems (Swallow Press, 1972)

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