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Almas de violeta, an early poetry book by Juan Ramón Jiménez, the Nobel winning poet, was first published in violet ink. I have a copy of his complete works, Obras completas, in which those early poems still appear in purple, or violet, rather, to match the color of the title. He published poems in green ink, too, but personally I prefer purple. Bruised clouds in an evening sky, dark depths of a rainbow’s glow, Northern Lights at the deep end of their descending scale … or is it just a desire to be different … slightly different, as if that one thing, the color of my ink, might tip the scales and turn me from mediocre to celebrity with a wave of a violet wand or the click of a pair of ink-stained fingers.

What else is there to do, other than meditate and walk your fingers across the keyboard, when rain mingles with snow and grey and white streaks fall at faster, slower rates to trace a network across window, trees, and garden? JRJ, Juan Ramón Jiménez, forgotten now by all but the scholars who read and teach him to the few ardent graduate students who clutter the ivy covered halls of academia and blow away the dry dust that settles on unused books when they languish on library shelves. Is that what will become of us, we poor poets of today? Are we to be reduced to the polvo seco de tesis doctoral / the dry dust of a doctoral thesis, as my good friend José María Valverde once wrote?

I guess the dry dust of a doctoral thesis is better than the silence of unturned pages, the empty sands of the voiceless desert, the dunes of forgetfulness shifting here and there along a sea-shore swept by shiftless winds. Forgetfulness: we must first be read … only then can we discarded and forgotten. And who will read us? Who will emerge from their twitter and their tweets to open a book and lift the written word from the page and carry it into their hearts so it can be placed on the soul’s altar and surrounded by incense and flowers?

Purple ink on a purple page, the violence of violet, life with it’s doldrums and purple patches, the cat curled up in its basket, one paw out to test the weather on this rainy, snowy day, when coffee appears at my elbow, as if by magic, and words seek sanctuary in a ritual flow of  song.

3 thoughts on “Violet

  1. Poets used to be rock stars. And not that I feel like poetry has fallen from popularity, because Lord knows its all over the place in social media and the blogging world. But I cannot think of one famous contemporary poet. And I’m not talking about famous people who also write poetry. How did that happen? What a gem to have in your possession – the violet poems. 💜

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    • Not an original, Meg, but a modern copy of JRJ. Still in violet ink though. But you raise a major question: the rhetorical tools of poetry, reduced to their minima, are metaphor, witticisms, snappy word plays, rhyme, rhythm, brevity, and cutting, memorable discourse. This is the language of advertisement, sound byte, twitter, tweets, labeling. Poetry hasn’t vanished: it has descended to its lowest common denominators. Trump is a magnificent poet, relabeling and reclassifying the world in oh-so-memorable epithets according to his own world-view and self-interpretation. As a destroyer and re-creator of language, he is magnificent. We doubt and mock his abilities to our peril. Rap and hip-hop have also revitalized and politicized language. Poetry isn’t dead: it is regenerating. We cultured poets, the voices of an ivy-league academia, are the ones who have become immersed in our own navel-gazing, thus missing the poetry rhythms, and voice of the streets where poverty and bag-ladies rule. We need to get out among the gente perduta, the lost people, the garbage cans, in order to rediscover ourselves, our voices, our language and our poetry. I’ll write about this tomorrow. If I remember.

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