Saturday, September 20, 2008
we made a brief visit to the native American Pow Wow today. Beth has been to some out west, which are grander affairs, more like rodeos or state fairs. this was a smaller event. there's a lot of stuff to buy, trinkets mostly. when we arrived a woman was telling stories for children. I wanted the drums, the singing, and the dancing. we toured around until the festivities turned to the music. gosh it is wonderful. 5 or 6 men sit around a large drum (there were 2 or 3 groups), and they beat in an entrancing way, with occasional provocative thuds on the drum. singing as they do so. meanwhile, in the dance circle, people set to. some dancers are quite internal and meditative, and some are John Travolta in Sat Nite Fev (except that I think he's a clunky dancer in that, schlocky Vegas crap, but I am trying to relate the dance circle to you). some dancers are courtly, even prim, and some cut the rug. there was a man using a walker, and an oxygen bottle, with head dress, quite dedicated to getting his steps in. and young girls and boys making quite the most of the simple two step procession. it's a lovely spectrum. I saw two brothers, late teens or so, who I saw last year. they sang as well as danced. the older dressed up fine while the younger wore jeans and a red basketball singlet. I wanted to be banging on the drum. not, I hope, in that male menopause way. I have always had drums around, tho I never call myself a drummer. the tom toms are more like mystical vortices than musical instruments. that is, the point is the engagement with time as a proposed element of breath and connection, not an attempt to be Elvin Jones. I think in writing about Harold Bloom yesterday, I was sniffing the border of something similar, a similar distinction. there's a chunky competition in Art World, everyone with their Elvin Jones chops displayed. and the teaching facade, and the critical facade, each instigates a sense of limitation. and the dumb shit of that is the obvious point: that aint none of us Elvin Jones. who only himself got there by the magic of being Elvin Jones. and that magic has a lot to do with Elvin Jones' engagement with breath and connection. proposals of canon reflect a weak attempt to match that. the pow wow drumming is granted as a simplicity to share (tho I note no women in the groups, I am sorry for that, tho some of the singing did include women's voices), and the dancing even more convivially embracing. this stuff makes more sense to me, in the most vital way, than poetry scene. universities and sackcloth, for the sake of poetry as coterie voice not tribal connection. this make sense to anyone?