POETRY MONTH 30/30/30: Inspiration, Community, Tradition :: DAY 7: Gregory Crosby on Kenneth Fearing
When I moved to New York nearly eight years ago, I became a determined flâneur—in Baudelaire’s formulation, one who walks the city in order to experience it—and although the New York I walked was not 1929 or 1938 or 1943, I heard everywhere, persistent, sardonic, and expansive, the voice of Kenneth Fearing (1902-1961) in the back of my mind. To read Fearing is to suddenly meet Walt Whitman not in a supermarket but in the neon shadows of a film noir. I can think of few other poets who capture the alienation and exultation of urban existence, at once cosmopolitan and proletariat, sophisticated and vulgar. To live in a city is to live at all times inside the human mind: Fearing’s best poems buzz in that hive of loneliness and longing: X Minus X Even when your friend, the radio, is still; even when her dream, the magazine, is finished; even when his life, the ticker, is silent; even when their destiny, the boulevard, is bare; And after that paradise, the dance-hall, is closed; after that theater, the clinic, is dark, Still there will be your desire, and hers, and his hopes and theirs, Your laughter, their laughter, Your curse and his curse, her reward and their reward, their dismay and his dismay and her dismay and yours— Even when your enemy, the collector, is dead; even when your counselor, the salesman, is sleeping; even when your sweetheart, the movie queen, has spoken; even when your friend, the magnate, is gone.