Sway Value: Cross Cultural Poetics
A. A. Hedge Coke
Evidenced in the oraliteratures of Indigenous cultures from around the world, poetics place people in the proximity of presence with purposeful revelatory lingual pluck against a grain of potential plunther. Cross cultural relationships intermingle human and other mammals, animals, plants; commingle human to humanity; bridge bearings across borders, real and imagined, throughout the planetary embrace we call life. In this platitude of existential and physical endeavor, poetics play a philosophic, intellectual, and spiritual role in narrativising and imaging culture, as is necessary to sustain ourselves as humans, as an average ingle plays the most pivotal physical role in keeping comfort in a wintering lodge night.
Words spoken, written, recited, and relayed, reveal the lingual tinkerings of the isolated emblem, individual consciousness, as a linking variable integral to the patterning consciousness of humanity and that which humanity thrives upon and co-exists with: energy/cosmos. The relative nature is essentially invoked in participatory communicative couplings of beautiful and horrendous knowns and unknowns we deem markers of experience in human life. Poetics warm and feed us; emit insight and surviving substance; nurture our beingness and enhance our revelations with personal and collective experiences, through which we renew and expand our revealings to a greater understanding of self and that which surrounds self: introspective gradient expanding to bear full witness.
As a narrativising gesture, poetics form easy pathways into separate consciousnesses (realities), thereby, bridge portals to other knowns. This necessary oraendeavor is a natural evolution of the communicative processes of our life form and that of life forms we maintain balance and interdependence alongside. The need for encounter, embrace, eventful emotive experience, the need to develop knowledges, understandings—celebratory revelings–toward pleasurable synergism, is as fundamental to what we know as sense of purpose as breath is to life. It is no coincidence when polling eighty international poets individually1 an extremely high per cent of the poets, when queried as to what poetry is, most responded easily, without conversation with any other poet polled, and without hesitation: poetry is breathing.
Conversely, one might suppose that poetry is an attempt for higher order of reasoning and that sincere supposition may actually formulate in a cohesive manner of truth, yet poetry itself, the poetic interplay of language and experience, or intake and exhalation, of detail and response, or consideration and dwelling, of muse and musings, is as basic to sustaining natural consciousness and thought as breathing is a sustaining force of the body, therefore natural order of reasoning for the poet and for anyone interpreting ingested experience into cognition. Oxygenation of the brain allows for processing, for proper construction and abstraction of thought, and in so much what is good for the body is good for the mind as well, again concentrated on breathing: inhale, exhale. The formation of thought is reliant upon not only the body’s ability to produce a healthily conducive environment for the cranial function, but for inhalation of substance necessary to bring thought into fruition; be it perception, intuition, and/or reason. Thus witnessing detail, sensory impression, available probable elements that, in the correct conditions and circumstantial or purposeful arrangement (order), could become knowledge/known causes instinctive curiosity to concern one with the matter of problem solving and/or puzzling, thus giving way to the rambling over that which muses and tumbling around the elemental processing until something tangible and/or provocation, perhaps profound, evolves from the interplay/engagement.
This musing causes one to form captivating detail to relay that which is intake to the listener, as well as to self for introspective purposes. The engagement with intake and effective detailing further informs the poet to associate knowns and unknowns into the narration to relate the information in such a way that the listener and/or self is credibly encouraged to arrive at the exact same place as the translator of the information, thus simile and metaphor are employed to bring attention to particulars and to open up the evolving imaging of information into something relatable and/or surprising to thoroughly coerce inspiration to flourish and to replicate, invariably bringing the information into a more fully realized development through the translator now acting as transliterator developing that which has been inhaled as information into something one may expand consciousnesses of other life forms with, through the process of exhaling in a changed form: image-ridden verse with challenging/nourishing metaphoric puzzle.
The sound sensibility of poetry comes into play due, in part, to the need to make reverberations of the substance to cause a continuous flow and better the impact of replication and transition for further development/maturity through the listeners/readers. Widening the air channels for full ability to thrive. Alliteration, consonance, assonance—word play—become the employment of diction that allows for flow to be produced, bringing a smooth quality to the verse that both keeps a constant and causes additional engagement/response: sway. This sway, persuades one to move in response, in an intellectual, a lingual and by all rights a physical response to the lingual prowess. The rhythm/beat caused by this employment and leading to repetition and perhaps scheme, bring the consciousnesses toward more blendability and synergistic interchange, interaction—relationship—relativity! The more diverse the engagement, the information, interpretation, and the transliteration, the greater prospect of learning, co-imagining, imaging, the greater chance of developing knowledge, understanding, and the greater possibility of profound and entertaining bridgemaking occurrence. Humans, despite what we are served by the commercialized world, thrive on challenges that result in learning. When one ceases to learn, one becomes quite dull and loses zest and zeal necessary to partake readily from the benefits before us in this life. An opportunity to grow, as it is referred to, is probable cause to partake.
A chief role of cross-cultural poetics is the challenge to the listener and the advancing of knowledge from the speaker made possible (and greatly enjoyable) through the gesture in a non-didactic vessel. Poetics, for the most part, operate with the knowledge that listeners/readers enjoy coming to conclusions along with the speaker versus as instructed to do so. The synergistic quality of poetry provides a meaningful communicatory process in which knowledge is generated, gifted, and received through a lingual relay of actual and imagined multi-dimensional translations, interpretations and transliterations. It is a conversation contingent upon the quality of flow and replication available and enhanced when such is embodied and/or disembodied from the original gist, muse, or impetus.
Culture, the way of being/knowing/maneuvering life as is distinguishable by Indigeneity, ethnicity, racial lineage, historical truths, regional-environmental landscape(s) of belonging/habitat/visitation/diaspora, cosmogonic story, familial ascendancy and descendent current, status of age, gender, socio-economic position (or lack thereof), concentrated scholarship, religious affiliation/doctrine, spiritualness, and any other number of qualifications within human context, creates a beingness in which the sway is inherent to the specific speaker as a discerning mechanism of intake, interpret, translate, persuasion, just as it plays such bearing for the specific listener/reader, including the degree of dissonance to source of origin and possible shared (commonality) variables. Thus, the natural imposition of cultural nuance within any form of communication (speaker/listener) is intrinsic to the variant experience of any interplay.
Cross-cultural could then be defined, in this context, as a speaker/listener exchange. One could argue that cross-cultural exchange could occur between a mother and daughter, who have lived in the same house, attended the same education, adhered to the identical ethno-spiritual affiliations, and share most everything other than generation as cross-cultural speaker/listener in communicative relationship. Thus the poet-daughter read by the listener-mother would essentially transcribe essences of the era specifics within this milieu as is pertinent to her generational sway and vice versa. The influence of cross-cultural communication (poetry) serves to translate, bridge, pathway scene surroundings natural to the speaker’s nature toward the listener’s learning curve consumption. An opening is presented through the communicative process (spoken/written page) and equally significant devoured/inhaled/cultured substance materializes within the knowns/familiarities of the (now learned) recipient. With this truth is knowledge, arguable or relatable. The sway gradation persuading growth, understanding, educative process—relatedness—wielded by the distinctive manner of the pen as decreed by speaker’s intent and generous maneuverings of own culture (curiosities/knowns) for the value of lingual pleasure, personal expression, intellectual-spiritual-emotional growth, communicative desire/need, or any other variety of whim with which creative process occurs—inhale, exhale.
The knowns of A´kabal, Akiwenzie-Damm, Alexie, Allen, Armstrong, Belin, Bitsui, Blaeser, Brandt, Cicangana, Cocom Pech, Crystos, Cuevos Cob, Cuthand, Dumont, Dunn, Erdrich (any one of three: Heid, Lise, Louise), Frazier, Gansworth, Glancy, Gomez, Grover, Halfe, Harjo, Hedge Coke (yours truly), Henry, Henson, Hill-Whiteman, Howe, Hogan, Hunter, Jamioy, Jim, Joe, Kenny (George or Maurice), Kleemann, Kowii, Lienlaf, Maracle, McAdams, McDougal, Miranda, Momaday, Moses, Northrup, Naranjo-Morse, Okpik, Ortiz, Rendon, Revard, Rose, Salisbury, Sanchez, Silko, Solano Mendoza, Stevens, Tamez, Tapahonso, Tohe, Toledo, Trask, Turcotte, Twist, Van Camp, Vizenor, Walters and White are as significant a cultural-poetic/cross-cultural interchange between each other (ourselves) as are cross-poetic interchanges between Stevens and Sze, Ortiz and Baraka, Allen and Waldman, Bitsui and Shenoda, Hogan and Troupe, or Frazier and Trethewey. Colloquial vernacular to contemporary realisms, engaged, enraged, endowed, embedded, exchanged and gifted generously for the listener to transform accordingly along with the speaker in verse. And for the reader, the extent of sway affective upon the volume of interplay is as varied as the experience the reader brings to the day of reciprocal reckoning and ultimately necessary for synergistic organization in humanity itself.
So bring on the phenomena we call crossings in all literary pages. Let the words bring a better world for the knowingness of us all. The balance afforded serves to tilt our (kn)own axis of knowns to a place of equilibrium and equidistant means. The phenomena made available by the engaging poetic interchange is surely essential in this world, literary and beyond. Not to mention the response poetry resulting from the read. Slide some moose by your corn soup, salmon alongside your kanuchi; everything seasons as we sway it so.
•A 2009 Pushcart Nomination, has been made by Mark Nowak, for “Sway Value,” published in XCP: Cross-Cultural Poetics #20. 2008.
Festival Internacional de Poesía de Medellín, 2005.