William Blake conceptualized the movement, Arthur Rimbaud defined it and Paul Verlaine expressed it. The movement of symbolism is misunderstood movement in literature. Arthur Rimbaud wrote poems that were destroyed because they weren’t understood. James Morrison’s poetry has never truly been accepted due to the life he led outside of poetry. Most people spend way too much time trying to decipher and not nearly enough to direct themselves. Art in my mind, when it is truly effective, is a roadmap and directs us only in the direction that we were already headed. Most people fear art, they prefer to feel good about themselves over knowing what truly exists inside of them.

Arthur Rimbaud and James Morrison were both monsters of energy. They were larger than life characters that burned out in a short period of time. Rimbaud stopped writing as a teenager and Morrison tragically died at 27. They did however establish themselves as rebels. They lived the symbolist life. I have attempted to live the lifestyle of a rebel or what I thought I rebel was. A course of self-destruction is not always rebellious.

The most difficult thing to do, at least for me as an individual, has been to separate the people who have inspired and motivated me from the legends that have overshadowed their art. Rimbaud stated that the poet must become a Voyant through a prolonged derangement of the senses. In 2003 this is difficult short of isolation in the desert of Utah. In fact As I have been working on this essay CNN is blaring in the background. Not wanting to sound technophobic it is difficult when you state that we as a people need to return to a simpler core existence. Poetry brings us to a more simple time; it is a baseball game, a long walk along the lakeshore. All of these things point to why poetry is more vital now than ever.

For me as a poet the most difficult thing to do is to shut off the technology long enough to fall into the creative mindset. It is difficult in the modern world to shut down the technology long enough to concentrate on Art. In my daily life I am surrounded by great technology but I still write in a Mead composition book purchased at Wal-mart for $.88. Some might think a renaissance man in 2003 might simply mean being in control of the remote. I, however, believe a true renaissance man must move past digital cable, the internet and broadband download time to something greater. Technology, however, may not be the enemy. Technology is only a tool. The enemy is us, the people that choose rather than reading a book, or taking that walk in nature - we watch the Saved By The Bell marathon on the Super station. Brains are optional in modern day existence.

It is my greatest hope that I can allow my art, my poetry and fiction define me. In contemporary America it is nearly impossible to be a professional poet outside of academia. I do not wish to be an academic, I go to work everyday, spend time with real people. It gives me a perspective that most “real poets” don’t seem to have. I also see the value of academia and poets who chose academia as a way to gain independence. I am more in the line with Charles Bukowski, the structure of being an academic poet would restrict my ability to write.

My point is how can a poet survive in the modern era? It’s tough but when aren’t things tough for poets? Doing my best to fight the good fight, further the movement and inspire thought. Whatever that’s good for.

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