Yesterday Darius Cooper poet and professor of critical thinking, humanities, and film in the Dept of English at San Diego Mesa College read his poems at the Theosophy Hall under the aegis of PEN. There were 12 people in attendance and I judged that I was the third, sorry, fourth youngest one. What does it say about poetry and its audience?
Darius’ poems were in the context of “Avan, Javan” in Gujarati meaning “coming, going” and is all about his “face being turned to the west when he was in India and towards Indian when he was in the West.” An expatriate’s nostalgia tints all his poems such as: “Cat Motel,” “Avan, Javan,” “Adjectives,” “Music Room,” and “Don’t Worry Darling, We Have a Legend and History.” (The latter is about Bombay’s “family rooms” above Irani restaurants which were popular love nests for the youth of the time. “We all have been to these places.” Uh-oh! The Iranian “family rooms” have disappeared and coffee shops and Macdonalds’ have taken their places with a different mating game altogether enacted there.)
Darius has two volumes of poems ripe for publication but hasn’t had any luck with publishers in the U.S. or in India. (Here’s a professor who writes good poetry, as yet unpublished. What does it indicate of the poetry publishing-advance-book-tour-fame-trophy-girl syndrome?) I suggested that he start a blog as I have done. (Here’s my poetry blog.) Adil Jussawala, eminent poet, who was in the audience approved of this idea and said, “You don’t know where your audience is. Poets are always seeking their audience,” something to that effect. “Who reads your poems, who sees your plays, you never know.” Thanks Adil for the support, albeit, indirect.
Adil also said that a poet tries to discover his “tribe.” This time I got the exact word, “tribe.” Yes poets are a diminishing tribe and the attendance at the reading manifested this. But a stubborn and committed “tribe” they are.