What makes a good poem? What makes a good painting, a good movie or song? What does good even mean? I open this with questions that will be answered differently depending on who you are and what you like. I see a lot of modern art, a piece of toast with a dagger through the middle stuck to a wall and I don’t know if I would call that good art or even art at all but many others do. I do appreciate the use of jam as blood because as a man in my early twenties if you threw a dagger at me the outcome would be identical. I. LOVE. JAM. And to those in the US, I think that’s jelly. I now prefer marmalade but orange doesn’t have the same effect as strawberry. We aren’t here to talk about preserves even though that would make an interesting edition. I’ll ponder on it. Is this art? Where is the line drawn? Let us look at the definition.
I’ll be honest I didn’t plan ahead and thought this would strengthen a point I was going to make but now I am more torn than ever. The ending strikes me because I don’t know the beauty or emotional power that surrounds toast and daggers other than a bad morning and an unsuccessful breakfast. Maybe it’s saying a lot about Mondays and if I took the time to read the title of the piece, more questions might have been answered. It’s most certainly an expression of human creation though. I feel similar about certain micro poems and the way they demand to be art without any sacrifice. I feel there is an abuse at play with the term ambiguous. I understand open endings and leaving the fog 90% lifted but you can’t throw an axe at a crumpet and call yourself Vincent Van Dough. So what is good? I am an open-minded individual. Willing to give chances and see beyond the curtain but I am also strongly opinionated on art, especially poetry. Expression is art. It’s in the definition. But focussing on the poetry of Instagram in particular, I see so much that is designed as some fancy float in the social media parade and not raw feeling or any personality whatever. I am not a person who believes poems have to be serious, I wrote a love letter to traffic cones just last week but within that poem, there is personality. I highly doubt it’s good in the way of greatness but my definition of good art is art that features the artist.
Even the official definition is ambiguous. Desired or approved of but by who? Last week I posted the fifth edition of shots, a collection of photos taken on a 2016 iPhone SE with terrible quality and haziness but I loved the photos so much I dedicated a whole newsletter to them. We are heavily focused on being good in all aspects of life but truly what does that entail? What does it mean? Everybody has an opinion on what’s good and what isn’t and based on that, I think it’s impossible to please everybody and instead of trying to impress other people, maybe our art should be selfish. You can’t guarantee that what you put out will be loved or even liked and if you don’t even like it then what a waste of creativity and time. There are grey areas, sure but we can’t promise even the most thought of strategies will produce good art. All we can do is create and love what we do and if we are lucky it will be loved. And next time you see a piece of art, a poem or a song that seems to be saying nothing, remember the phrase toast and daggers, laugh a little and move on.
Here’s a fun song by a band called Beans and Toast