Friday, April 8, 2011

Who Is He?

In my Freshman year of college, I went to a Works Reading of Ander Monson.  The following essay was my critique of the man's presentation.  To this day, I respect him as a great writer.


Quietly I sat, staring at the figure in the front.  He was surrounded by a murky yellow light as if the sun was trying to fight its rays into the depths of the auditorium.  Black holes in the ceiling told of luminescence once present but long forgotten, possibly burnt out from their incessant and yet pointless task of waking the sleeping freshmen from their heat-induced slumber. 
One would surmise that the warmth, coupled with a sparsely known writer from the Upper Hand would bear an unsuspecting soul into the halls of dreamless sleep only to be artificially jerked awake by the sound of a fellow student’s uniquely ringing lifeline to organized chaos.  During thick lulls of silence, my eyes would wander to the architect’s mastery – the illusion of a wall.
Ander Monson’s figure waved to the cadence of his Vacationland.  He smelled of women’s perfume, men’s cologne, dirty socks, old carpeting with rotting floorboards, an excess of hair gel or possibly spray, piping hot ink from the quickness of hundreds of pens, and an unusual but understandable splash of formaldehyde.  Or was that the excited crowd I was in, hanging on every word of advice – or non-advice – that emanated from his manufactured mouth.   Forcing the Professor to say the consonant ‘j’ lent a stronger appreciation of Fragments: On Dentistry. Having not read the King, I now have two-thirds less of a reason to delve.
            The topic of inspiration was on the mind of one fellow student.  Impressed, the tame lion inspired the crowd to work.  “Work hard and you’ll get better.”   
            One critic spoke of her mistrust of his poetry bringing a profound, yet confusing conclusion from Ander Monson – poetry can take on new wings from time to time and will transform itself within the life of the poet or more aptly, through those who read it.  When a soul comes across poetry, their life is a window to the meaning.  Each window is unique and the interpretation may bring in more or less warmth or no light at all. 
            Death came into the room from all corners.  It was laughed at, scorned, respected, internally wept over, guessed at, was wished for, and held at arms length.  From our invincible vantage point, death appeared to be a rodent, constantly irritating the ears of those who cared to listen, but no more.  It caused us to look at life in a new light, craning our necks to see the depth of electricity and abstractness.  We looked at life before death and enjoyed the randomness of it all.  Life for those who lived after death became more profound, resulting in well penned works.  A bridge was formed to cross the cavern of the unknown and yet it was still undefined.  We were just looking at it more intelligently.  The crassness of life made death look promising while keeping one ear toward the ground, the other toward bigger and better things, even if we were trapped in chain mail.
            I now understood the meaning of the dark light in the bowels of the campus – there was no meaning.  But Ander Monson stood there, giving us understanding of his mind, which, indefinable, gave us the definition of what our success as a writer would look like – alone in a room, laptop on the desk, staring at the screen…of the TV.

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