Is there room in the room that you room in?
In the opening sonnet from Ted Berrigan’s The Sonnets, Berrigan asks, “Is there room in the room that you room in?” In poetry, we measure things by stanzas—stanza being Italian for room—so I can’t help but wonder if Berrigan is asking if there is room for us inside your poem. Of course, there is a chance that Berrigan didn’t write this line himself as The Sonnets challenged notions of authorship and first introduced, at least to me, the idea of community as a way of process. One thing that I love about Berrigan’s work is this inclusivity--the space created for other voices, the welcoming of other people, and the creative potential of conversation and friendship.
The New York School poets have been essential to me and my own understanding of what poetry is and what it can be. Bernadette Mayer’s writing experiments remind me that the material of poetry is everywhere, whether it’s a snippet of overheard conversation on a street corner or language snatched from a dream or a Facebook ad. CA Conrad has said, “All the globe becomes a poem.” I find these ideas incredibly generous and permissive. There is a freedom that comes with opening one’s self up to the idea that poetry is everywhere if we’re willing to listen for it.
In an interview, Eileen Myles defines what it means to be a New York School poet: “As an aesthetic it means putting yourself in the middle of a place and being excited and stunned by it, and trying to make sense of it in your work.” This, putting one’s self somewhere and being excited to be there despite all that being there involves--the joyful as well as the heartbreaking and ugly--and trying to make sense of it, is what poetry is for me. And I am happy to be here. And I’m happy you’re here too.
Gina Myers is the author of two full-length poetry collections, A Model Year (Coconut Books, 2009) and Hold It Down (Coconut Books, 2013), as well as numerous chapbooks. Originally from Saginaw, Michigan, she now lives in Philadelphia where she works in higher ed communications.