MUHAMMAD ALI'S FIST, AUTHENTIC SPARRING, AND MIXED MARTIAL ARTS AS POETICS
Notes (Gleaned Specifically for Poetry) from April 18, 2012 Boxing Session:
--on Authenticity. Julio, my trainer, sets up sparring sessions where we practice combinations, e.g. Jab and Cross, Hook and Uppercut, or Jab, Cross, Hook and Uppercut. Apparently Julio set up combinations that are realistic in terms of how the punches might play out in the real-life boxing ring. He doesn't have me do a whole series of Cross, Cross, Cross and Cross, for instance, as it's unlikely a boxing bout would unfold that way. Such would contrast with how, if a Jab is successful then a Cross is a logical follow-up, and same thing with Hook and Uppercut or Jab, Jab, Jab, Jab. Practice, practice, practice, indeed. But one needs to practice where one desires to go. Relatedly, this makes me wonder about where writing a lot ultimately can fail (and I am nothing if not prolific) if one doesn't have some scaffolding of what type of writing one wishes to create. For most of my years as a poet I believed in just writing and letting the poems fall or soar where they may. Now, older, I have a goal for the whole point of the writing (what's that goal? a story for another day). I don't wish to write poems that would generate a response of unrealism, so to speak. Of course, I'm also still figuring out what this means.
--Related to above, Julio says you need to visualize a reality that you are practicing. The importance of imagination in poetry. Except I can't usually visualize a poem ahead of its finish; I can sometimes, however, visualize a (desired) effect of a poem. I suspect this relates to how I privilege the poetry to the poem.
--Muhammad Ali. He was so self-confident that he at times would drop his hands to his sides, thereby exposing his face and body, and even lean his head in tauntingly to the opponent. Such was his self-confidence about being the greatest boxer ever. Mike Tyson, however, would bulldoze right into his opponent's space (I first typed "face"). The self-confidence versus the brutish offensive. Most orphans (and this, after all, is all research for my manuscript 147 Million Orphans) are made insecure by their circumstances and it can take years (if ever) for them to regain self-assurance/self-confidence. Mike Tyson was an orphan. Muhammad Ali was not. Form befits content...?
--Muhammad Ali adopted a child.
--Jab! The jab is a feeler-touch, more of a slap than a punch. It's made to feel out the opponent or distract the opponent in readiness for a stronger punch. The jab is usually made by your weaker hand while the stronger hand awaits for the opportunity to deliver a stronger punch. I am making jabs here with these notes, feeling out what boxing (and poetry) is about. The punches, hopefully, will be the poems themselves.
--Most (all?) boxing punches rely on the four-fingered front-face of the knuckles, e.g. this Ali fist.
Trans is a logical position for poets...
--Speaking of Ali-fist, in that image the punch is bigger than the boxer. Ted Berrigan's The poem is the poet's best self...