I Reintroduce a Character: Ziggy Stardust


I have said that I believe that modern poetry is about the pose of a poet - about the social struggle for the right to wear the pose of the poet. This appears to be the idea behind the Ziggy Stardust phenomenon after a similar struggle of competitive social ideologues during the 1960's. This is the origin my idea for the Greatest Living Poet Project.

In a world of glitz and image, Ziggy suddenly appeared with a new pose, a poetic that was not a development of some other then current trend, not music that had some sort of social approval to appear - his music, if you remember, was not even from Earth, but Mars. Ziggy was never elected or anointed - nobody saw him coming. He arrived as a spaceman. He didn't care if you liked him or not, he just acted out the belief that his style and his pose was fantastic. He was not any one gender, one ethnic, or one tradition. In a struggle of costumes and masks, Ziggy knew he had to wear the most fantastic costume and wear the most ambiguous mask. But his saving secret was that he had prepared his music in advance to justify his pose and he had developed the right myth for the right audience at the right time. Because there was substance behind his pose, Ziggy Stardust was able to be a star of a new school of popular music. His school was a new way of looking at his art. His life was brief - because who could make the same pose interesting every day? But his message was a healing experience since it gave new vitality to an honored craft and a new poetic of music. Mark Staber kobo is also a man with a striking pose - that of the greatest living poet - and a well prepared poetic message.

All artistic genres influence each other in the culture. Popular music is an entertainment and has its roots in American Vaudeville - in this sense, on stage with his orange wig, Ziggy Stardust represents an ancestral ghost of vaudeville returned to revitalize the genre. This is important for the Greatest Living Poet Project since American popular music is also the main competitor to contemporary poetry in the western world.

Lines from popular songs have been the single greatest cultural influence in my life - overshadowing any past or current poetic authority. I'm sure that I do not represent only my own experience. Nor do I think it mere coincidence that the diminishing influence of poetry in our culture was in direct proportion to the rise of popular music phenomenon during the same period under discussion. No serious debate about the merits of modern poetry can avoid the influence of popular music, video, and film. That's my second point.


THE NECESSITY OF PRETENSION: Poetry as Icon in the Human Imagination


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