"Art transcends its limitations only by staying within them." Flannery Oconnor.
I went to a reading by the Kerouac House resident author, Caitlin Doyle. I had spent a wonderful evening sketching Caitlin as she worked on her poetry. I came to realize that poetry like art takes plenty of hard work. I was pleased and relieved that Caitlin had been able to relax and made major headway towards finishing the poem she was working on called "The Ship." I felt a warm glow of satisfaction when she announced that she planned to read the poem at Infusion. I had been witness to the birth of its creation.
To give you a flavor of the poem, you can read an excerpt of it below with the first two stanzas and the beginning of the third stanza. Caitlin plans to include the poem in her book manuscript, the project on which she is working while at the Kerouac House, so if you look for Caitlin’s book in the future you will be able to read the complete piece.
The August I was grounded for sneaking out
at night, so stuck indoors I was homesick
for anywhere but home, my dad showed me how
to make a ship fit in a bottle – the trick,
string-rigged masts pulled full sail only once the hull
had been inserted through the bottle’s neck.
If wrongly put together, the ship could wreck
halfway inside, a tangle of strings and shards.
Mine cracked in two before the stern made it through,
as if to say: 'better broken than contained'.
But my dad answered it with a tube of glue.
The parts seemed to come back in place by choice.
He raised the sails and corked the bottle to seal
the ship inside the glass. I watched the keel
rise on invisible waves day after day…
The poem then goes on to continue its exploration of freedom and containment in the speaker’s coming-of-age experience, as embodied by the metaphor of the ship and enacted in the tension between looseness and restriction within the poem’s rhythm and form.
To satiate my need for a suger rush, I ordered a banana split vegan cupcake and the iced tea of the day. Rachel Kapitan showed me some poems she is crafting which take the form of architecture. For the open mic that followed Caitlin's reading, Rachel first recited from memory a Robert Frost poem titled "Stopping be Woods on a Snowy Evening." Hearing the familiar poems lines was comforting. She faltered for a moment and the poets in the audience were on the verge of shouting out the familiar lines...
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep
She then read her own poem that involved a Kafkaesque form of sexual performance art. It had an anger and vehemence that caused the audience to howl. The evenings endless variety was exhilarating.