Monday, 13 December 2010

One Stop Poetry Spotlight: The Walking Man, The Line Between & Poetry Slam

Every once in a while you stumble upon a poet that changes the way you look at poetry. Mark Durfee (aka The Walking Man) is one of those poets to me. Having walked virtually with Mark for over a year, I have learned much in regards to poetry and when I became interested in Poetry Slam, he was the one I turned to as well.

I was at the Richmond (VA) Slam this last Saturday night and I will say if you ever have a chance to go to one, take it. I witnessed some amazing performances by poets of diverse ages and backgrounds, even getting the opportunity to be a judge for the slam portion.

Mark hails from Detroit, and has several books out, recently publishing The Line Between, which focuses on what we do on that line between the day we were born and the day we are done. In the front of the book Mark writes, "As is his style Durfee writes not pretty poetry but is as honest with his words as as his grandmother was in her love," which I think is why I like his work so much.

Below is a poem, not from the book, but that I swiped from a recent post. I highly recommend visiting Mark and picking up The Line Between. You will not be disappointed. ~Brian

Put Your Gifts Under Your Litter

In the land of the ice and cold

where the anger burns
blistering and steamy
we look at living trees
with frost blown breath
and regard them as perfect
where they stand.

I watch as we cut them down
by our own hand to die in our houses.
We festoon the green and steal the scent
with spirit of graciousness gone tragic,
with good living for “the children.”
There is an ocean of plastic
floating on the earth and I need
to take more life and it desecrate
to make my place prettier
for a couple of weeks
rather than use the litter I helped create?

If a tree makes you feel joyfully,
if the masters of the underworld
can inject beef flavor callously
into your McDonald's hamburger
I am certain they can inject a fabulous
fake pine scent to make the season go further
into your recycled plastic reusable dead already tree.

Every single piece O green,
be it a blade of grass,
flower coming to bud,
weed or tree
is needed now to be left in its place.
That is if we,
the human race
are going to continue to be
able to breathe.

© M Durfee


budh.aaah said...

Congratulations Mark, your work is exactly what is needed in todays age to shake us out of our reverie

moondustwriter said...

I have enjoyed Mark's work as well. i like the honest stuff. Writers for centuries have been the clarion voice for society

Thanks for the feature Bri

Jerry said...

That was a great intro into your work Mark. Do you have a read aloud thingy in your blog? Slammin isn't my thing to write but I sure love listening to it.

Jerry said...

Brian...good catch.

Reflections said...

Brian, great person to highlight... Mark, your piece here is amazing, honest, yet tender thoughts of this place we call home. If only more of us could look upon it with such grace. Your honesty shoots an arrow to the heart of the problems we continue with.

Maureen said...

Thank you for the spotlight. Lovely work.

ds said...

Brian, thank you so much for introducing us to Mark. Mark, thank you so much for this poem!

Mama Zen said...

Great choice for a spotlight. Walking Man does some powerful stuff.

dustus said...

Mark, your poem does a wonderful job prompting awareness for wasteful extravagance--thought provoking, well stated poetic lines. I look forward to reading more of your work. Congrats & thanks. Excellent spotlight, Brian.

Eric Alder said...

Give it up for a local boy representing the "D" and doing it proudly. He's got the juice, people... check him out!

Hope said...

Mark~ happy to meet you! Great poem! looking forward to reading more from you
Brian~ thank you

sage said...

I have been enjoying "The Line Between." Mark's poetry is raw and powerful and moving.

Dave Holloway said...

This poem doesn't feel right to me. Makes me feel like I'm looking at a Al Gore bandwagon poster. Like warning people is the new fad or something.

Claudia said...

thought provoking for sure - think we need poets to shout out on the world - thanks mark and thanks brian for the spotlight

Tammy said...

Enjoyable spotlight. Thanks for sharing!!!

Caty said...

that was great! I loved the McD's reference...Nice spotlight :)

Chris G. said...

Fantastic work - and it's bloody good to see a Detroit native up in the spotlight. Great find, Brian; does me good to see such a talented individual from my dear old frosty Michigan!

the walking man said...

Thank you all for your comments and critiques and accepting that all poetry is not beauty and light.

I suppose this is where I am supposed to tell you how, if you are of a mind to get one or both of my books. Go to my blog and click on the picture. There that is easy enough.

Poetry is a means of communicating a point of reference in time. I have been writing mostly poetry for the past forty odd years but it took me well over half that time to find my own voice. It is raspy and grating at times because they say I smoke too much but truth be told it grates when it hits the mark I aim for.

These are hard times for not only the Earth but the people who live upon her. Some see it differently and I will leave the writing of beauty to them. I rarely can find words to express the wonder and awe I feel for this temporal place.

I am not a Utopian dreamer. I know that there is beauty on the earth yet but I also see with my eyes how easily we thoughtless degrade the very thing that sustains us. That is the point I am making and referring to in the piece Brian lifted off my blog. I did not need Al Gore to tell me this.

The cleaner air in my city tells me enough, the lack of manufacturing here, the dry quiet smokestacks let me know I live in a troubled land and not the place of my youth. 2 out of 4 in Detroit are unemployed or only part time employed or hustling for whatever they can get.

After my military time, on the day I turned 21, I left Detroit for a few years to look around this continent and it was a time when farms were owned by families and towns still had enough people in them to not have to consolidate school districts with the next town 15 miles up the road.

Except for that near eight years I have never lived anywhere other than within the borders of Detroit. I could easily afford to take advantage of someone elses misfortune and move to a "safer" place but this is my home. And it makes little difference for I would still turn my eye to the same things, the same subjects to write about. And I know how to live here just like those road years taught me how to live outside if need be.

I am American by birth but a Earthling by citizenship. And the entire ball of dirt from the molten core to the top of Everest is mine and yours to do with as we please.

It seems that we have for a century and a half have been pleased to wreck and ruin almost all we have touched and that is both a sad and angering thing, because it need not be this way, we need not ruin life for profit and shareholders payouts every quarter.

OK enough of the soapbox, most of you are aware of where we as a people stand.

I want to end this little write with the same words I end with at almost every reading I do.

Now is the time for all artists to speak out, to show the truth of what we have become, been led to by greed, our own and those that would own us. Now is the time for painters, writers, sculptors and others to speak up and out through their chosen medium.

We stand on the precipice of not only environmental destruction but societal slavery to corporate profits and it is now that we need stand and speak or we become part of the problem by accepting the situation without so much as a bleat.

There is a great anger building in the nation and the world and diplomacy and war are coming up short so now it is time for any who have voice to use it and see if we can drag society a step or two back from the edge. We can help each other make life worth living by refusing to accept the status quo that Hollywood and The corporacracy give us.

Be Well
and again thank you all.


Steve Isaak said...

Clever, good.

G-Man said...

I've met Mark..
Drank coffee with him
Smoked a Pall Mall with him.
(I've since quit)
He is as Honest and Real as they come.
I should have got his autograph.

Alegria Imperial said...

A poem that cuts right through yet lifts the tangled conversations on the environment. Every man should read this and see the mirror and wake up. Great work, Mark! Thank you.