Friday, June 26, 2009

Michael Jackson is Dead or Why I Love Celebrity Poems

Incase you live under a rock: Michael Jackson is dead. Mourners have gathered. Flowers have been purchased. Strange photos, stuffed bears, and god knows what else litter the sidewalks at all the important MJ locations, and the media is in a frenzy. I always wonder what happens to all the crap people pile up when really big celebrities die. Do people really think Jackson's family wants a stuffed teddy bear bought at the dollar store? No. It's probably some poor personal assistant's job to clean it all up and give it to some charity, but who knows. 

Regardless I mourn the lost of Michael Jackson, not because I was his biggest fan, or because I will miss out on the music he might have made if he had lived, but because he was an "other" and society needs more "others." Jackson was by most people's standards a freak. The media and popular opinion desperately wanted to cast him as a villain or a monster, but I never bought it. I don't think he did anything to any kid. I think he was a broken person, who wanted to help others, but didn't always know how to communicate that. 

There is little doubt Jackson will go down as a great musician, but I also hope he will be remembered as someone who never found it easy being a celebrity, but devoted his life to his art and passion, even if it cost him his happiness.

With the death of Jackson there will also be a flood of Jackson poems. There's already a few out there and I can't wait to see the results. Celebrities in poems is a great interest of mine. I love lots of these poems, from Frank O'Hara's famous Lana Turner poem to Sharon Olds's Marilyn Monroe poem to Tony Hoagland's newish poem about Brittany Spears. I enjoy it when good writers take up celebrities and do something interesting with them. I've done it in my own work by writing a whole Brad Pitt sequence, oh and a poem about Kevin Bacon's dick.

A celebrity's death often provides an interesting jumping off point for a great poem, but also plenty of chance to write a bad one. I'm sure if I googled "Michael Jackson poems" I'd find plenty of terrible tributes already on the internet. This is sad and will give poetry about celebrities a bad name. What I mean by celebrity poems is poems that take celebrities and do something more with them than just say I love whoever. The best celebrity poems, in my opinion, aren't actually about the celebrity. For example my Brad Pitt poems have very little to do with Brad Pitt. Pitt is important to them and works as this symbol of straight masculinity, but in reality the poems are about a gay couple and the struggle to stay together. Olds poem is another great example. She writes about the men who cared Monroe's body from her house and the imagined effects it had on them and their sex lives. It's an amazing poem and Monroe is vital to it, but not the only focus. The goal is to tell the reader something new and give them a new perspective.  

For me it takes time to process a situation and find my grounding in it. Will Jackson be appearing in an upcoming poem of mine? Possibly, but only time will tell and only if the idea is right and the words find me. You can't pressure yourself with poetry, like I felt pressured to write this post. It will come when it's ready. 

For now I'll sit back and watch the craziness unfold. I'll watch people and media who once vowed to send him to jail mourn him and pretend they loved him. I'll watch Jackson take the spotlight off, dare I say it, more important news stories. I'll be blown away at the idea of Jackson's death nearly breaking the internet by so many people reacting on social networking sites. And I'll wait for what might creep up and suddenly take hold of me.

-Stephen (I'll be There)

2 comments:

  1. i will pee my pants if you write a michael jackson poem.

    i should have been his therapist. poor michael.

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  2. Tribute To Michael Jackson From Anastasia

    Anastasia Roberts@hotmail.com

    A poem from Anastasia Roberts dedicated to Michael Jackson may his music live on.

    You will make your music in heaven that’s were you belong, its sad to leave this world behind and spread your wings towards the sky, but that’s were you belong (Michael) you may think its a bad thing that your life was cut so short, I know you were not ready, he did not give you a sign to complete the things you planned, but please don't be angry that’s the way God plans.

    He wanted to have you by his side, he gave you for a little while, and I know it does not seem fair but he has a better plan for you than what we can give you down here. So dear Michael don't be sad, on the 3rd day when you rise up, just spread your wings and fly, he is waiting with opens arms. I heard you would be the leader of a great band that forms up there the band made up pf Bob Marley, Lucky Dubai, and you know Alisha but what about your good friend the one you call James Brown so think of all the great ones who has gone before you.

    He’s waiting to complete his band of musicians and the only one missing is you. So dear Michael spread your wings and fly up to the sky, there is a band of brothers up there all waiting for you there. Maybe at nights when the stars are out and the moon is shining bright when the world is still and peaceful without a song we will hear your music from heavens the wind blows through the skies

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