the prosimetrum

I love the flexibility and flowing alternation from poetry to prose (and from fiction to non-fiction within the prose) that the prosimetrum provides as a genre.

FROM “WHISKEY”

When it comes to WHAT I like to write about, I like to keep an open mind and write contemplatively about what interests me at a given time, leaving me free to mix the creative with the critical and write about anything from politics to religion to sex– you know, all the things “they say” not to talk about at the dinner table but which I believe we ought to talk about at the dinner table so that we don’t eat in awkward silence, misinterpreted, suppressed, disagreements less addressed than they could be.

Regarding poetry my favorite thing to do is rhyme.

In my fictional prose writings I like to alternate between dreamy and surreal to the semiautobiographical.

In my non-fiction prose I like to alternate between the personal/diaristic/memoiristic, the political and journalistic, the theoretical and philosophical and esoteric, and the academic/scholarly.

watch/listen to sample from”Freedom & Maximalism…”

I’ve been writing poetry in a variety of forms since roughly 1999 when I first fell in love with the song lyrics of The Bee Gees.

In the summer of 2004 and into my Freshman year at Kean University I discovered the free verse of Charles Bukowski, Allen Ginsberg & the Beats, the song lyrics of John Lennon, and the Romantic poetry of Percy Shelley. The aesthetics of poetry grew increasingly confusing and complex for me as there was a part of me who was fascinated with stark free verse and another who was smitten for a more mystical rhyming verse.

In the summer of 2005 and through my two semesters at Florida Gulf Coast University I fell in love with Bob Dylan, Jim Morrison, Arthur Rimbaud and Charles Baudelaire. In the spring of 2006 I actually applied to Emerson College and was rejected which was part of a time in my life rather utterly brimming with mental health struggles including extreme anxiety and depression and fixations on marijuana and alcohol.

In the summer of 2006 I began experimenting with word collages (more or less inspired by no one in the realm of poetry except unconsciously Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start The Fire”; otherwise my attention was turning quite deeply into philosophy, especially those of Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, and Ayn Rand) and so became my primary poetic interest until roughly the winter of 2011 when I thought I might not only give up poetry but creative writing altogether as I had come to deem myself incapable of writing anything .

Though I would sketch a fragment of verse every now and then I really gave up on my interests in poetry until 2017 when I grew entranced with the poems of Amy Lowell and developed an interest in Claude McKay. But at this time I struggled very deeply with what was even really meant by the word “poetry” so I did a lot of reading without attachment to any particular poet and experimented with notions of “prose poetry” and “the “verse-essay” while also researching and experimenting heavily with a variety of genres and hybrid creations.

More recently I’ve noted a lot of new things about my aesthetics that I realized I was afraid to embrace. For example, I’m pretty sure my all time favorite is ultimately Bob Dylan. Even when I thought I abandoned poetry for good and was exclusively “an essayist” or “fiction writer” or just a political activist, I have found Dylan simply, thus far, to be the poet and even writer who I have quoted most often.

Other poets who have my utter love include John Lennon, Claude McKay, Emily Dickinson, William Blake, Jason Isbell (I have a bias towards songwriters), Alanis Morissette, Percy Shelly, and William Wordsworth.

But central to my thinking about poetry is that I don’t inform my poetry exclusively by reading, well, “poetry.” In the first place, I enjoy hybrids and so also write prose. But secondly, I think I could have no sense of well informed aesthetics generally without Susan Sontag, Michel de Montaigne, James Baldwin, Phillip Lopate, Leslie Jamison, Robert Musil, Thomas Mann, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Gloria Anzaldua, Martha Witt, John Parras, and David Foster Wallace.

My website/blog still remains in the more experimental and developmental stages but in the near future I’ll be including more passages from my work in different forms of media. In the meantime, should you be curious, below you can read one of the earlier drafts of a poem I’ve been working on about the Covid19 pandemic.

Thank you so much for taking the time to consider me and what I’m working on and please feel free to comment or email me at seanoconnorliterature@gmail.com

Coronavirus 2019 (draft in progress)

Meantime life outside goes on

All around you

-Bob Dylan

1

 “Talk of the town”

That Covid nineteen

More like

talk of the world–

for it strikes me

from what I’ve seen

with all these disrupted

routines

trips to the pharmacy

and grocery store

where there was no more

hand sanitizer

for sale

(did you heard the tale

Of the derailed ambitions

Of Matt Colvin

who sought to regale

himself, profiteering

from tens of thousands of grail bottles

of hand sanitizer until

People assailed his avarice  

Amidst global travail

Though ultimately goodness prevailed.

In reflection he bewailed that “remorse”[1]

ailed him

and he chose to bail

on price gouging his hoard

so he could live more upscale

and instead he donated the hand sanitizers

and was of some social avail)

But back to my own tale

Of my visit to grocery store

Well, the gist

of it is that I felt anxious

about every inhale

and exhale

and a virus

in the midst to curtail…

…from China

(where it seems the outbreak

began, where the government

chose not to make

information about the virus public

for the sake

of politics—

compare to President Trump’s

mistake,

his administration didn’t make

enough tests

and refused to take

the tests the World Health Organization

had made.

Trump chose to

to downplay

and say

“when it gets a little warmer,

it miraculously goes away”[2]

The headline of a Reuter’s article

Published the other day:

“Like the flu? Trump’s coronavirus messaging

confuses public, pandemic researchers say”)

Anyway, as I was saying,

From China

to Italy

to New Jersey

to avoid exposing

People to the virus

A lot of schools

And businesses

are closing.

And as many of us

self-quarantine,

utter ghost towns– some places

are suddenly starting to seem

in pictures online I’ve recently seen

in the midst of my seeking to glean

updates of the outbreak.

Day jobs on forced hiatus

Since one might not even know

if one is contagious—

One thing that’s advantageous 

More time to think about

That which is not work related

So I was thinking about

what John Lennon maybe means

when he sings

“the world is just a little town”;

Considering the outbreak

is bringing it’s nasty spread

all around our terrestrial sphere

unifying

a global ethos

of anxiety and fear

Before it was only

in China

and hadn’t touched us

here in the States’

but now it has and suddenly

it’s easier for many to relate

and cooperate

within the global and systemic effort

to quell this pandemic

and reach the zephyr.

To think, if it was something worse

The human species

And the earth

could disappear

but the universe

would still be here…

Ah, but let us not fear

Or over emote

in general–

not that I mean to be

overly polemical,

rather, a touch academic

within the poetic

as I craft my mimetic aesthetic

In the midst of this frenetic,

emetic, pathogenic

pandemic—

ignorant of viral genetics,

but athletic, how I’m scrubbing

my chafing hands clean now

and scrutinizing my hand cleaning routine, 

worrying about

this damn Covid nineteen

For which, thus far,

There is no vaccine.

2

Less worried

about myself

Than I am about those

whose health

Was already

unsteady

or whose vulnerability

is stealth.

“Sixty-plus-year-olds”

We are told

by The Washington Post[3]  

which adds that the most

important things

are drinking fluids,

social distancing,

fever reduction medicine

and supplemental oxygen.

Nerve-wracking

Disruptive and distracting,

a disaster, not (yet?) quite

like the Spanish Flu

(in order to subdue

Some anxiety,

And perhaps contextualize my view,

Since one value

Of history

Is that despite so many mysteries

About events

Some possess sort of similar peripheries  

…yes, much will be

I think

Obviously

Contradictory

But one commonality

many already see

as I’m sifting through

some research on the Spanish flu

and systems we used

is how national leaders

damaged quicker paths to victory

and downplayed the threat

of what was true

and about to ensue

in the name of good publicity)

Scientists, historians, leaders and pundits

are comparing the two

as well as looking to failures and successes

of other pandemics

helping us clarify what

and what not to do

So I can’t help

attaching to the news crews

(goodness, like glue!)

Interview after interview,

on the television and the internet tracking

all this nerve wracking damage

this pandemic brews.

I read a blog that said

For folks like me

with mad anxiety and OCD 

although “It’s tempting”

We should

 “Cut back on constant news checking”[4]

Hard to do when it feels like

News checking is somehow an act of

Self protecting

And even social connecting

(in the midst of transitioning

To this new existence in

an undefined period

of “social distancing”

hopefully everyone’s listening

to leaderships’ unified calls

for social distancing!)

Yes, it’s depressing and distressing

And upsetting

The economy going quite awry

Quickly running out of certain supplies

Imposed limits on what we can buy

Certain areas are ordering

People “shelter in place,” i.e, “stay inside!”

Praying our loved ones don’t

Catch the virus and die

But at least the sounds and sights

of people reflecting on and expressing

how we’re all addressing

covid 19

eases me

as the virus careens…

though I must say

this ordeal

is starting to feel

surreal

like a keel made of eels

only to reveal…

…I don’t know…

Wherever your imagination

Wants to go…

I’m watching

 the Rachel Maddow show

Donald McNeil—Health and Science reporter —

Suggests that even in the shorter term

Based on what he learned

His educated guess

Is that the U.S.

Will  “surpass Italy

in the number of deaths” [5]

In Italy there’s now 300 deaths a day

475 died in Italy on Wednesday

March 18; and what many Italians say

Is that they downplayed

the virus

and wished they’d stayed home[6]

3

The New York Times writes:

“Global stocks plunge, worsening slump”

… “…as investors digested the consequences

of President Trump’s

30-day travel ban

on European

visitors to the United States.”[7]

And the E.U. feels Trump

Treated it like a chump

But the E.U. prefers

A global community that “cooperates”

The European Commission states

That it “disapproves

of”  how the U.S. decision was made

“unilaterally and without consultation”[8]

I’m not going to pretend

I comprehend

the cultural, economic, and political trends

as we seek to fend against

this blend of medical and economic crisis

as it ascends

but I do intend to append

some new knowledge

to my mind

and extend

my capacity

for dividends

of critical thought

about these current events

…And the New York Times said

the Fed just cut interest rates

“to ensure that credit runs freely”

So people still “borrow and spend”[9]

And President Trump said

The economy may descend

Into a recession

So congress is considering

an $850 billion injection

(compare to the $700 billion

Back in 2008)

Along with sending

thousand dollar checks in the mail

to every American, Trump sought to reiterate

his plan to protect our economic fate

by tweeting “money will soon be coming to you”

meanwhile we wait

as congress is the midst of debate

Over just what form

Economic protections

Might take

As experts try to make

sound assessments

As volatile stock prices shake

Down on Monday

Climbing their way

Back up on Tuesday

But falling back down

on Wednesday

with some economists who say

they fears a 20% unemployment rate

if the government doesn’t instate

“measures

to contain

the virus

[which] are proving successful”[10]

Yes, so we wait

On further governmental action Before determining our reactions


[1] “In an hourlong interview on Sunday, Mr. Colvin expressed remorse for his actions and said that when he decided to hoard the sanitizer and wipes, he didn’t realize the gravity of the coronavirus outbreak or the severe shortage of sanitizer and wipes.” From “The Man With 17,700 Bottles of Hand Sanitizer Just Donated Them” by Jack Nicas for the New York Times, published March 15, 2020;  https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/15/technology/matt-colvin-hand-sanitizer-donation.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage

[2] See the article “A Complete List of Trump’s Attempts to Play Down Coronavirus” by David Leonhardt, published in the New York Times on March 15, 2020;  https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/15/opinion/trump-coronavirus.html

[3] See “Seniors are the most vulnerable to coronavirus. You can help protect them.” By Lateshia Beachum; Washington Post; March 11, 2020; https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2020/03/11/coronavirus-seniors-help/

[4] See the blog post “Managing OCD about Coronavirus” by Shala Nicely, Reid Wilson, and Kimberley Quinlan  https://www.shalanicely.com/aha-moments/managing-ocd-about-coronavirus/

[5] From “Failure to Identify, isolate conronovirus infections puts U.S. on dark path”; The Rachel Maddow Show; MSNBC; March 18, 2020; https://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show

[6] From the article “Italians share what they wish they’d done 10 days ago to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, from staying inside to listening to their mom’s advice” written by Talia Lakritz for Business Insider; published March 17, 2020

[7] See “The Coronavirus ‘Market Updates’ Live Updates” (updated as of March 12, 2020); New York Times https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/12/business/stock-market-today.html?action=click&module=Spotlight&pgtype=Homepage

[8]See EU condemns Trump travel ban from Europe as virus spreads” written by Lorne Cook and Samuel Petrequin; Associated Press; March 12, 2020; https://apnews.com/4552fd280d06cf83c63e4cc9b08fe5ce

[9] https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/16/business/stock-market-today-coronavirus.html?action=click&module=Spotlight&pgtype=Homepage

[10] “analysts at Capital Economics wrote in a note Tuesday” – as stated the article: “Wall Street Plunges With Global Markets in Turmoil: Live Updates.”; New York Times ; March 18, 2020   https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/18/business/stock-market-today.html?action=click&pgtype=Article&state=default&module=styln-coronavirus&variant=show&region=TOP_BANNER&context=storyline_menu