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November 06, 1992 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 1992-11-06

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The Michigan Daily - Friday, November 6, 1992- Page 9

She's a poet, and isn't dead

e,

Blue Rodeo includes Bazil Donovan, James Gray, Jim Cuddy, Glenn Milchem, Kim Deschamps and Greg Keelor.

Rodeo drves to
by Andrew Cahn
Blue Rodeo is considered by some to be Ameri-
ca's best band, but unfortunately they're Canadian.
Their country-tinged sound, with image filled
4 lyrics, bluesy keyboards, and a recently added
pedal steel player, makes their music reminiscent of
other Canadian luminaries, The Band and Neil
Young. Greg Keelor, one of Blue Rodeo's gui-
tarist/singer/songwriters, said that the band mem-
bers are all fans of those groups, but that they really
didn't have much influence on Blue Rodeo.
"When Jim Cuddy and I started the band,"
Keelor said, "we wanted to do something like the
Clash or the Stiff Little Fingers. Our introduction to
country music didn't come until we heard Elvis
Costello's 'Almost Blue' album."
If these guys are so good, they why haven't you
heard of them before? Keelor blamed their record

the Motor city
company, Atlantic, for not promoting the band cor-
rectly to American radio. Canadian radio has
"Canadian Content" standards which make sure sta-
tions play developing native bands over the institu-
tionalized artists. Bryan Adams actually suffered
because of these rules because he wrote songs with
a British guy, but that's OK because it cleared more
air time for true talents. Because Atlantic put so
much energy into "this week's pop-metal band,"
there's little support for bands like Blue Rodeo or
America's best band, the Subdudes (they're not
Canadian), who were recently dropped from the la-
bel's subsidiary EastWest.
Keelor said, "We played in Memphis last week
in front of only twenty people." Hopefully, Satur-
day's usually large border town crowd will make
the band feel loved.
BLUE RODEO will be at the Majestic Theater
Saturday night. Tickets are $7.50. Call 833-9700.

by Darcy Lockman
Name a poet who is still alive.
Chances are, unless you're an
English major, Keats, Shelley and
Wordsworth (all deceased) cover the
range of poets you've read, or at least
heard of, somewhere.
What about novelists? Now
you're scoffing. Of course I can
name a novelist, you're saying.
Sorry, I don't mean to insult any-
one's cultural literacy. Neither does
poet and novelist Erica Jong when
she speaks about the general popu-
lace's general disregard for poetry.
"Poetry is what people turn to at
the most emotional times of life:
when we lose a friend, when we fall
in love. It's sad that the mass media
have no place for it. Fewer of the big
book stores have poetry sections,"
she said. "But at the same time, po-
etry is coming back as a spoken tra-
dition. Reading poetry is the way to
keep it alive. It's too bad, though,
because young people are not ex-
posed to it, and it's such a powerful
art form."
Although she has written just as
many books of poetry as of prose,
Jong is much better known for her
novels, which include "Fear of
Flying," "Parachutes and Kisses"
and "Any Woman's Blues." Her lat-
est book of poems, "Becoming
Light" out just last month, includes
early works, over 75 pages of new
poems and excerpts from previous
books.
In the preface to "Becoming
Light," Jong writes that "these po-
ems form a sort of autobiography in
verse." Even those who skip the
preface can sense this. Her poems in
this collection are very real life, the
kind of poetry that your average
(talented) English major might sit
down and write, and the kind that is
enjoyable to sit down and read.
At times, "Becoming Light"
seems more like a book of prose
than one of poetry. Jong is telling
her story through poetry rather than
in the form of a novel. In poems like
"Lullabye for a Dybbuk," "Driving
Me Away" and "I Sit at My Desk
Alone" Jong paints a picture of the
woman she is today. "The old self /
like a dybbuk/clutching at my heel. /
She wants to come back. / She is
digging / her long red nails / into the
tender meat of my thighs... / She
tweaks my clit, / hoping that my sex-
aholic self / will surface / and take
me back, back, back."
Her older poems, with their ten-
dency toward long lines and obvious
rhyme schemes, reveal the woman
she used to be. "I hear you will not
fall in love with me/because I come
without a guarantee,/ because some-
day I may depart at whim/and leave
you desolate, abandoned, grim. / If
that's the case, what use to be alive?
/ In loving life you love what can't
survive:"
Born in 1942 in Manhattan, Erica
Jong cannot remember a time when
she did not want to write. "It's some-
thing I always wanted to spend my
life doing," she said. However, as a
woman, the young Jong was not
clear where she would fit in as an
author.
"In my generation, there was a
strong feeling that the writer was
male. In college, we read all male
authors. There was no multicultural
perspective. No one even bothered to
talk about the women. They were
considered unimportant."
"When I began to write, I felt it

was very important to write honestly
and humorously from a woman's

point of view. At the time that was
called 'wearing your ovaries on your
sleeves.' You were supposed to cul-
tivate a neuter persona," she ex-
plained.
Fortunately, the androgynous
mask behind which Jong was sup-
posed to hide never manifested itself
in her work. She chooses not to
follow the rules, and finds success in
female heroines, with unmistakably
feminine outlooks and feminist con-
cerns.
"I am a feminist," she said, "A
feminist is someone who believes
that women are complete human be-
ings who should have complete legal
equality. I'm passionately proud to
be a feminist, but I don't want things
to get so PC that I can no longer
dance."
Jong's leading women seem to
feel the same way. They are self-re-
liant yet not solitary, strong yet vul-
nerable and they are sexual - their
sensuality pervading most of her
novels. With her first book, "Fear of
Flying," Jong coined the phrase 'the
zipless fuck,' introducing the notion
of women partaking in the same no-
strings-attached sex that men have,
and has yet to live it down.
"It (the zipless fuck) wasn't pre-
scriptive. I wasn't encouraging
promiscuity. I was showing that
women have these fantasies as
lustily as men, not saying that ev-
erybody should act on them. I'm
talking about freedom to fantasize,
not freedom to fuck everybody. I'm
promoting choice, which scares peo-
ple," she said.
In response to those who might,
due to its occasionally explicit con-
tent, label her work as 'trashy,' Jong
responded, "That is a knee jerk reac-
tion of those who think sexuality is
trashy. Sex in my writing is there to
mock and reveal society. It's a pow-
erful force of life."
It is fitting that this powerful
force created .the being that Jong
now sees as most important, her
fourteen-year-old daughter, Molly.
"Having a daughter is the most mind
and soul stretching thing in my life.

Watching her grow has been the
most exciting thing in my life. She is
a passionate, fiery feminist. She is
my best friend and hardest critic."
Having a daughter has also influ-
enced Jong's writing. It is obvious
which novels are pre and post-
Molly, and the same is true of her
poems. In her newer poems, there
are touching references to both
mother and childhood. In "My
Daughter Says" Jong writes, "My'
darling Molly / no earthling ever
lived / who did not feel/like a
Martian, / who did not curse her bed-
time, / who did not wonder / how
she got to this planet, / who dropped
her here / and why / and how she can
possibly/stay."
Touching is just one of many ap-
propriate words to describe "Becom-
ing Light." These poems arouse
feelings that cover the whole
emotional spectrum, from sentimen-
tality to anger to confusion.
"Poetry is extremely visual. It
deals so much with questions of
identity. I'm a very metaphysical
poet. I'm always looking for the se-
cret of life," she said.
"As a writer, you must learn to
lose the boundaries of self. You
must become a character. You lose
the boundaries of the ego and enter
into the cosmic dance. Life is a
transformation of energy fields. If
you see the world as molecules
whirling and jumping, you realize
there is no death. It's just energy
changing forms."
No one says it quite like a poet.
And no one writes poetry quite like
Erica Jong in "Becoming Light." But
what exactly is she telling us with
her poems?
"Find your own spiritual center,"
she says, "I see myself searching for
that. It's my greatest wish."
Does she think she's found it?
"Sometimes," she says with the
smile coming through in her voice,
"sometimes."
BECOMING LIGHT is a Harper
Perennial Publication and is avail-
able for $14 at local bookstores.

,
9

'Keeping up with Jones
We don't usually go out of our
way to hear fellow students sing,
but then again, it's not every day
that one runs into a voice like
Timothy Jones'. A doctoral
student in the School of Music,
Jones' baritone was a big hit last
year in his performance of P.D.Q.
Bach's "Bluegrass Cantata."
Tonight, he'll be doing some
lovely Mozart arias with the
Campus Chamber Orchestra at

Hill Auditorium. We've no idea
what to think of the Chamber
Orchestra; let's just hope they
don't drown Jones out. Showtime
is 8 p.m., and it's free. Call 763-
4726 for information.
Back to the Kafka desk
Time for your Kafka fix?
Check out Orson Welles' brilliant
film adaptation of "The Trial,"
Saturday at 9:30 in MLB 3. And
it's a mean double feature: "In
Cold Blood" starts the fun at 7.

WIFE
Continued from page 8
Miserables" and "Cats") then at-
tempted to resurrect the show for
London audiences. "The Baker's
Wife" did debut on November 26,
1989 to rave reviews, but closed af-
ter six weeks due to poor financial
conditions in London.
MUSKET's performances, there-
fore, mark the show' s regional de-
but. Hackner admitted that present-
ing a show with which most people
are not familiar does prove to be a
risk. "This show will have to stand
on its own merit," Hackner said.
"But I really think that we're going
to turn this city on its ear."
THE BAKER'S WIFE will be per-
formed at The Power Center Friday
and Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 2
p.m. Tickets are $7.50, $6.50 with
student ID. Call 763-TKTS for more
information.

re

Erica Jong in a calm pose without her ovaries on her sleeves.

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