I am talking to you about poetry
and you say
when do we eat.
The worst of it is
I’m hungry too.
This poem is part of the poetry in motion series on the New York subway. You will see it rather frequently, and having had the opportunity to ask people what they felt about this poem, I have realised that it is like a Rorschach test of sensibilities. Different people react differently to this.
Friend J hates the concept of being in a relationship. He has spent the last few years moving in and out of short-term flings that never last more than a month. He thought that the poem showed how domestication kills romance, "the sort of smugness that causes people to become fundamentally disinteresting after they spend too much time with each other"
Another friend, who belongs to that annoying club of people who are madly in love and gush and coo about it thinks of it as an incredibly romantic poem.
"It describes a situation where two people become so much a part of each other that one person's desires induce similar desires in the other person, the kind of relationship that all of us secretly aspire to", were her exact words.
I, on the other hand, think that this poem is about the power of the culinary over the poetic. Self-deprecatory because it places food before poetry, it is about the triumph of food over other forms of human expressions. But then I am obsessed with food to the point that I have almost gone to jail for stalking it.
There are, of course, other possible points of view. More general ones, in a manner of speaking. I asked friend W, a beer drinking,'gidday-mate' wishing buddy from Oz about it while travelling on the subway, the other day.
"That's gay stuff mate, pomes and what not", was the only thing he said.
Update: This is what Falstaff has to say:
"Personally, I think it's about the poem as hunger, the poem as need. Marianne Moore famously said 'these things are important not because some high-flown interpretation can be put upon them, but because they are useful'. That, I think is the point of the poem - that true poetry isn't about intellectual discussion, it's about the immediacy of wanting something, about a need inside us crying out be fulfilled. Denise Levertov describes it well: "living in the garden and being hungry and eating the fruit"."