My wonderful parent sends cultural care packages to me about once a month. The news is slightly dated (I just look at the pictures, right?) I haven't told you yet that we have no postal service here.
The wonderful parent collects the magazines and papers for me, then wanders up to the local office of oil-exploitation international and hands over a fat envelope of goodies. In due course, the envelope arrives in Exile-land, where it spends some weeks in custody before it eventually makes its way to the office of Marius, and he drags it home to me, darling man.
Yesterday he brought an obese envelope (only vaguely searched this time) home, containing the Limelight issue for April, a couple of London Reviews of Books, and an Engineering journal (sorry, old habits die hard).
I began to drool over the Limelight at lunch time. I have to take my time so that I don't use up all my goodies at once, you know. Limelight is a monthly magazine produced by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, which began life as the companion to ABC Classic FM, and has now morphed into a useful arts review for the whole country, with an emphasis on classical music, but not restricted to it.
In the April editorial, Francis Merson writes about the difference between classical music and other types, and apologises for sounding like an elitist snob. He says "try sitting alone in a darkened room for an hour and doing nothing but listening to, say, Lady Gaga ... When you turn off the senses extrinsic to listening, classical music comes into its own. Just using your ears" .
The reason I mention this is because I read Tim Jones' s post http://timjonesbooks.blogspot.com/2011/04/book-review-spectrum-collection-edited.html
about a speculative/horror/fantasy collection, the other day, and left a comment that it wasn't for me. He replied: "I discovered from a little informal poll I conducted on Twitter last week that a surprising number of people have the same horrified reaction to the thought of reading poetry that you (more understandably) have to the thought of reading horror fiction. 'Tis passing strange. "
When I read the editorial about classical music, I wondered if poetry reading has a similar problem, that people don't stop to listen to the words and block out everything else.
Merson contiues "It's a challenge, for me at least, to do nothing but listen. You need to set aside time for it. You need to concentrate on the music alone (and not on your next deadline). But when it works, you open yourself up to the transcendent ecstasy good music can bring ... So perhaps it's not so much what you listen to, but whether you listen at all."
Not intending to sermonise, I thought perhaps the two were related: if we don't listen properly to poetry, give ourselves over to it entirely, we don't open ourselves up to the potential experience.
Next time I will try to draw parallels between poetry and traffic models ...