Thursday, June 25, 2009

Writers Block, A Cautionary Tale, Sebastian Venable

I wish you could have met me when my memory was formidable and stunning, a paean to family influence. Someone might say "Glenn" and I'd shout "Baxter" while my oldest sister would shout "Gould." High fiving wasn't the thing in those days, and it would be hard to imagine anyone in my immediate family, known for tapping our short fingers on each others' backs in lieu of a warm hug, doing anything so normal.


You, or anyone similar to yourself, could have knocked me over with a feather or two when I recently watched Tennessee Williams' Suddenly Last Summer on DVD. Maggie Smith, as haughty, genteel, brittle and southern Mrs. Violet Venable -- Violet Venable, yes -- is remarking that her son Sebastian was a poet.

Poet! I didn't remember that (I thought aloud). Of course as soon as Mrs. Venable says he wrote one poem a year, it all came flooding back and I watched the train wreck in all its poetic fluidity as if it were beautifully wrought true crime, which might not be far from the case.

Sebastian was a predator. I nosed around the Internet a bit, the word “homosexual” was used to describe him, and it’s not inaccurate insofar as he was attracted to his own gender, but really, would you consider a male who seeks out prepubescent girls a “heterosexual”? Creep-to-criminal works for me. His last days on earth, in Mexico, Sebastian scavenged among the poor and hungry.

His cousin Catherine was his companion in Mexico. She flipped as a result of witnessing Sebastian’s viciously disgusting though (again) poetically fulfilling death. The poor and hungry boys descended on him. Killed him. Ate his flesh. I am not sure if he was still alive when they began gnawing.

Jean Valjean stole a loaf of bread for which he was imprisoned all those years. The boys’ imprisonment preceded their revenge.

Anyway, the point is, really, that if Sebastian had spent more time writing and less time prowling, he might not have been mauled and eaten alive.

For you, yes, you, see, writing poetry can sustain a person. But it’ll take more than one poem a year, pals.

"The work of a poet is the life of a poet and - vice versa, the life of a poet is the work of a poet…you can't separate them." Mrs. Venable

The illustration is by the artist Glen Baxter, and certainly if you Youtube Glenn Gould you’ll be able to hear all sorts of astonishing variations on Bach.

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