Nobody reads poetry, we are told at every inopportune moment. I read poetry. I am somebody. I am the people, too. It can be allowed that an industrious quantity of contemporary American poetry is consciously written for a hermetic constituency; the bulk is written for the bourgeoisie, leaving a lean cut for labor. Only the hermetically aimed has a snowball's chance in hell of reaching its intended ears. One proceeds from this realization. A staggering figure of vibrant, intelligent people can and do live without poetry, especially without the poetry of their time. This figure includes the unemployed, the rank and file, the union brass, banker, scientist, lawyer, doctor, architect, pilot and priest. It also includes most academics, most of the faculty of the humanities, most allegedly literary editors and most allegedly literary critics. They do so--go forward in their lives, toward their great reward, in an engulfing absence of poetry--without being perceived or perceiving themselves as hobbled or deficient in any significant way. It is nearly true, though I am often reminded of a Transtromer broadside I saw in a crummy office building in San Francisco:We got dressed and showed the houseYou live well the visitor saidThe slum must be inside you.If I wanted to understand a culture, my own for instance and if I thought such an understanding were the basis for a lifelong inquiry, I would turn to poetry first. For it is my confirmed bias that the poets remain the most 'stunned by existence,' the most determined to redeem the world in words..
C.D. Wright
You are a totally pathetic, historical example of the phallocentric, to put it mildly.A pathetic, historical example, Oshima repeats, obviously impressed. By his tone of voice he seems to like the sound of that phrase.In other words you're a typical sexist, patriarchic male, the tall one pipes in, unable to conceal her irritation.A patriarchic male, Oshima again repeats.The short one ignores this and goes on. You're employing the status quo and the cheap phallocentric logic that supports it to reduce the entire female gender to second-class citizens, to limit and deprive women of the rights they're due. You're doing this unconsciously rather than deliberately, but that makes you even guiltier. You protect vested male interests and become inured to the pain of others and don't even try to see what evil your blindness causes women and society. I realize that problems with restrooms and card catalogs are mere details, but if we don't begin with the small things we'll never be able to throw off the cloak of blindness that covers our society. Those are the principles by which we act.That's the way every sensible woman feels, the tall one adds, her face expressionless.[...]A frozen silence follows.At any rate, what you've been saying is fundamentally wrong, Oshima says, calmly yet emphatically. I am most definitely not a pathetic, historical example of a patriarchic male.Then explain, simply, what's wrong with what we've said, the shorter woman says defiantly.Without sidestepping the issue or trying to show off how erudite you are, the tall one adds.All right. I'll do just that—explain it simply and honestly, minus any sidestepping or displays of brilliance, Oshima says.We're waiting, the tall one says and the short one gives a compact nod to show she agrees.First of all, I am not a male, Oshima announces.A dumbfounded silence follows on the part of everybody. I gulp and shoot Oshima a glance.I am a woman, he says.I'd appreciate it if you wouldn't joke around, the short woman says, after a pause for breath. Not much confidence, though. It's more like she felt somebody had to say something.Oshima pulls his wallet out of his chinos, takes out the driver's license and passes it to the woman. She reads what's written there, frowns and hands it to her tall companion, who reads it and, after a moment's hesitation, gives it back to Oshima, a sour look on her face.Did you want to see it too? Oshima asks me. When I shake my head, he slips the license back in his wallet and puts the wallet in his pants pocket. He then places both hands on the counter and says, As you can see, biologically and legally I am undeniably female. Which is why what you've been saying about me is fundamentally wrong. It's simply impossible for me to be, as you put it, a typical sexist, patriarchic male.Yes, but— the tall woman says but then stops. The short one, lips tight, is playing with her collar.My body is physically female, but my mind's completely male, Oshima goes on.Emotionally I live as a man. So I suppose your notion of being a historical example may be correct. And maybe I am sexist—who knows. But I am not a lesbian, even though I dress this way. My sexual preference is for men. In other words, I am a female but I am gay. I do anal sex and have never used my vagina for sex. My clitoris is sensitive but my breasts aren't. I don't have a period. So, what am I discriminating against? Could somebody tell me?
Haruki Murakami