Topeka Somatic-Eavesdropping-Attachment Poetry Project #5
for Kevin Rabas
Go to your favorite coffeehouse with pen, paper, and a poetry book. You should do this project when people are around.
Start with your coffee or whatever drink at your table, getting into your meditation. Breathe, relax, take in everything in the coffeehouse, everything in the moment.
You will be moving during the project. Move to another spot if you feel it is right. This is to be active in the present moment.
You will also be at rest and waiting. Rest and wait if you feel it is right. This is to be active in the present moment.
You will also write based on what is overheard, what comes to your mind, and what is in your book. Write whatever you feel. Follow your creative moment in deciding which to consult.
Keep in mind you can riff.
It takes a little while to get into doing this. You might feel foolish moving around so much, then remaining still. After half an hour, you will find your stride.
If you need to, take your iPod, Walkman, etc. to wear. Listen to your favorite Jazz tunes at a low setting so you can still overhear what is going on.
An alternative to listening is lip-reading, tapping on the table, and such.
Give this poem to a friend or someone in the coffeehouse.
Kevin wrote to me, "Jazz is improvisation. Everything is improvisation." He is an amazing poet and Jazz musician, so this project riffs off of his quote." The idea for this also came from how when Kevin and I are together we enjoy hanging out at coffeehouses. We sometimes do spur-of-the-moment writing exercises, often putting together a chapbook of poems from Xeroxed notepad paper.
I often go to coffeehouses to meet with someone, to write, or to grade online. With any of these, I become tunnel-visioned out of concentration. This project attempts to do the opposite, to connect with others without being too obtrusive. To improvise. To be in the moment.
T.S. Monk: "What a lot of people don’t understand is that jazz is not driven by technique. Jazz is driven by philosophy and it has always been driven by philosophy. There’s a root philosophy to the music that will pass down from generation to generation and one of those philosophies is that you can’t stay in the same place. You must move forward. You must stay on or as close to the cutting edge as you possibly can. The objective is to explore the unknown. Fear of the unknown drives so much negativity in the human psyche. It is the objective – going back to Buddy Bolden and Louis Armstrong – to play something that you never played before."
I am taking Monk's quote figuratively and literally, that a poet keeps moving, keeps improvising, going forward.