Rising Poetically…by Jeremy Radin

IMG_2404Hello, Perfects.

My name is Jeremy Radin. – I’m a poet and actor from Los Angeles. I am honored to have been asked to contribute to this blog and would love to share a poem with you.

A bit about it first.

I used to be terrified of politics. Anything political. I didn’t trust myself to know enough, make valid points, have the “correct opinion.” I was afraid of sounding stupid. Politics were to be left to the adults. When my friends would talk about it, I had the sense of being a child at the grown-up Seder table: bored and confused and wishing I had my GameBoy. It became something my friends knew about me. Oh, Jeremy isn’t political at all, he doesn’t care.

In my writing, I’d never explored it. I was so afraid to go beyond myself. Perhaps I imagined “brave writing” to mean revealing only my own shortcomings as a human being. Also, I am just a wildly, aggressively self-involved motherfucker. I can say it! I go to therapy twice a week! The government that affects me ends at the end of my skin, and once in a while, at the beginning of a lover’s.

Recently, I took workshop with the brilliant Shira Erlichman centered on creating poems that deal with the world around me. It was called “The Unlikely Political Heart.” Scared the SHIT out of me. For five weeks, I wrote poems of a political nature, read the news, got involved in these terrifying discussions. The results were incredible. Some of the poems do end up bringing it back to me, but in a deeply personal way that I did not know I could achieve by working from the outside in. Some of them leave me entirely out of it, which is, for me? A rich, white Jew from the west San Fernando Valley? A miracle.

Writing this way has been a terrific reminder that I am an active part of the world. That I can participate in it. It reminds me that my heart moves blood not only to keep me alive, but connected; that Alive is Connected. We share this place. We share these bodies. Writing about it, reading about it, talking about it, thinking about it, these are all ways to help me better understand it and perhaps someone else as well. I never got involved because I wanted to know everything first. All of the facts, magically. I’ve spent an awful long time trying to “do things perfectly,” which translates roughly to “watching a lot of episodes of Law and Order: SVU in a row and not leaving my house.”

Well, here I am, out and about in all my imperfect glory. Maybe I strike a chord, maybe I don’t. Maybe you agree with me, maybe you don’t. Maybe I’m right, maybe I’m wrong, maybe my therapist is on to something when he says that perhaps those things don’t exist as starkly as I would like them to. Either way, it’s nice to get out.

So here it is, a poem about my least favorite word in the English language.

Thank you for listening.

“WHATEVER”
after Wislawa Symborszka

Three-note
anthem
of a generation.

“Whatever”
is a backwards
bomb, drawing
all life
into itself.

Such devastating power.

However,
it is humble.

Doesn’t want poems
written about it,
songs
sung for it,
paintings
shown to anyone.

“Whatever”
has many mascots:

A record
with too much
space
between songs.

A shotgun held
the opposite
direction.

A needle
full of sleep.

It is The Great
Absolver.
Everything
disintegrated.

Plant it in the middle
of an argument,
sex,
a war –
see how
its roots
choke
the pipes.

So much can be said
of love or yes
or no or god,
but how quickly
they become nothing
when “Whatever”
is spoken.

Subduer
of Responsibility.
Deleter
of Acknowledgement.
The comprehensive
American word.

“Whatever”
education,
“Whatever”
gun legislation,
“Whatever”
“the girl was
raped inside
the bathroom
during recess,”
“Whatever”
and back
to Call of Duty,
a pizza
on the way.

Take the word
apart
and say it
separately.

The small question
like a vacuum cleaner
dragged
across
the daisies.

“What
Ever?”

As if to say

Go ahead.
Prove
the existence
of the old man
in the park,
adoringly stroking
the terrier’s ear.

Prove
the existence
of the girl
in the field,
gathering crocus
and snowdrops
for her mother.

Finally, prove
that we are sewn
from the scraps
of old stars,

that our blood
is the light
our ancestors
read by,

that we are anything
other

than whatever
we love.

IMG_2340

Jeremy Radin is an actor and poet based out of Los Angeles, California, who wrote his first poem because he liked a girl in tenth grade. He has performed at the Cobalt Cafe, Beyond Baroque, lots of bookstores, and co-hosted the Lightbulb Mouth Radio Hour with Derrick Brown and Mindy Nettifee. As an actor, he has appeared in television, film, and theatre. Slow Dance With Sasquatch (Write Bloody Publishing) is his first book.  

Jeremy will be performing in San Diego on February 23 to benefit this year’s V-Day productions, which go onstage at the end of the month.

On Thursday, he will be dancing.

VDAY2013SDJR

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