I'm currently reading (well, listening to the audiobook of) Amy Poehler's memoir Yes Please. I already loved her, and now my love has reached new depths thanks to her honest, heartfelt prose, hilarious take on everything, and exceptionally useful life advice.
She talks a lot about improv comedy and comedy writing. I find these subjects endlessly fascinating. I watch quite a bit of television, and I'm intrigued by the TV-script-writing process. In Poehler's experience, writing is a collaboration with a silly-sports-like quality and an anything-goes attitude. Funny people gather around and pound out a script as fast as possible. Sometimes they start by throwing out jokes, each one trying the best the preceding until one wins. Improvisation is also a collaborative game of sorts that takes the writing process and makes it live through its physical embodiment on stage.
I did a bit of both back in high school drama club. I still love improv games, but haven't played any in a while. I almost never write collaboratively nowadays. All of this got me thinking - why don't poets do more of this? Seriously, why not?
Poets used to be performing storytellers, minstrels and bards who roamed the countryside singing and reciting heroic ballads and epic poems. Modern literary movements, such as the Beats and Slam Poetry, have incorporated performance into their artistic milieu. And with regard to poetic improvisation, the Dadaists pioneered found poetry and automatic group writing a la the exquisite corpse. I'm certain there are other current movements that have improvisational and performance-oriented facets, I just don't know about them. And much of what I'm saying here is just my train of though, not a well-researched examination.
Another aspect of these kinds of movements involves the formation of poetry guilds - groups of poets who worked with and alongside one another, often united by social and/or artistic cause. They bolster each other, promote one another's work, read together, writing together, live together, socialize together.
I want one. A poetry cohort. Specifically, a cohort of local poets who want to get together regularly and do things like write together (parallel and collaboratively), go to readings, host readings, host salons, experiment with other forms of art, experiment with media (I really want to write a show about poets for YouTube), and pretty much be up for all kinds of poetic tomfoolery!
If you're interested in forming a poetry cohort with me, then comment here, shoot me an email, send a singing telegram, contact me telepathically, or send an owl. Then let's get together (yeah yeah yeah!) and do poetry. We'll figure out what "do poetry" means as we go.
I'm considering putting an ad on Craigslist...