First of all I need to tell you how annoyed I get by the cliched image of the drunk, smoking writer. There lives this giant myth that drinking, smoking, and any sort of drug use is somehow important to the creative process and that all "great writers" must partake. This is insane. Of course there are lots of famous writers who had drinking or drug problems, but why does that mean that these problems led to good writing? Shouldn't it be more of a miracle that they could write amazing work and still have these problems? I've known people who drink a lot and smoke a lot and most of them are pretty crappy writers. The two don't necessary go together.
Okay, that was a tangent to make sure you didn't think I'm one of those people who promote the image of the drunk poet. This not what this post is about.
Moving on to my actual point: I do drink and I do love to go dancing. I actually spent the last two nights at Parliament House here in Orlando. If you've never been you should get in a plane, car, or bus right now and come check it out. I spend most of my weekends there. It's a gay club, motel, restaurant, theatre, what-have-you. They have amazing drag queens, bartenders, and a really big mix of people. It's not like most gay clubs that have a very narrow crowd. It's not just twinks or bears or sugar daddies or queens. It's truly everyone, which is one reason I absolutely love it. I've gotten many an idea for a poem from spending my nights there having a good time with my partner, Dustin (we've been together for nearly six years, by the way).
I have this tendency to get a bit drunk and to dance and suddenly think about poetry. Now, maybe this makes me insane, because clearly there are other things to think about when dancing with 100s of sweaty men all around you, but I begin thinking of amazing ideas for poems or just thoughts about poetry and how amazing it is. It's like that cliched idea of muses coming down and speaking through you, expect nothing ever sticks. In fact I don't ever remember a clear idea from these moments, which goes to prove my earlier point about drinking and poetry. I always write sober.
Now don't get me wrong, these nights out often lead to all kinds of poems, but these aren't the poems that I imagine while I'm out there on the dance floor thinking it's pretty cool I'm a poet. I think that might be the feeling more than anything. I'm there with all these other men around me and I know that most of them do common/ordinary things and they see me (a skinny, young looking, red-haired guy) and they think I probably do something boring as well or that I do porn because it is Florida, but then someone asks what I do and I say "I'm a poet." Most of the time they look confused or laugh or tell me it's just a hobby (actually someone did say this over and over and I finally had to tell him to fuck off, but later I wrote a poem about it, so I win). I'm never discouraged by this. In fact it's that moment on that dance floor that keeps me going.
The next morning I will not remember an exact idea or thought, but as I sit sobering up, drinking my coffee, I will open my laptop and begin my work as a poet. Maybe I need to be drunk to take pride in that fact, to allow myself a moment of celebration, because being a poet in the 21st century in America can really suck. When I'm drunk on the dance floor I can be the sexy, smart poet I've always wanted to be and I can pretend everyone around me cares and would just die to be with me or to have me write a poem about them.