Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Credit Where Credit is Due

Tonight I am taking a few minutes to praise one of the unsung heroes of my journey as a poet.  I have often talked about the books I have read, the other poets and writers I have admired, and the teachers in my life, bur I have neglected one area of my past long enough.  That's right.  I am talking about Advanced Dungeons & Dragons.  That's AD&D for those of you who want to pretend to be in the know.


(The only unrealistic aspect of this image is there is clearly a woman playing)


(The only unrealistic aspect of this image is there is clearly a woman playing)

Now, I am being completely serious.  AD&D gets a big portion of the credit for my desire and ability to write poetry.  All through my teen years, while I slogged through the repetition of school and the outsider aspects of living in a rural Utah community, I was able to loose my creativity by way of fantasy and role playing games.  As I look back, I firmly believe it was playing these games which stretched my imagination, giving me the capacity to explore poetry with both determination and curiosity.

I can hear some of you now:  

But you don't write poems about the fantasy world.  In fact, your poetry doesn't really play with language.  How can you say playing a kick-ass game like AD&D helped you become a poet?

Well, I will cite Roger Waters from Pink Floyd.  When he was asked about the band Radiohead as being the intellectual child of Pink Floyd (arguably one of the more experimental rock bands extant) he had the following to say: (I paraphrase)

"I listened to some of their music.  My son gave me some to listen to, and I liked some of it, but there is a point where I turned it off and started listening to my Neil Young."

That's right.  One of the greatest innovators in all of rock history listens to Neil Young.  He was making a point, but the point is well made.  Good music is still good music, regardless of its origin.  With that in mind, I put it to you that any creative endeavor, regardless of its bent, is a positive influence upon creative efforts.  I don't have to study Lang Po or the most adroit creators of intellectual poetry to get better as a poet, and just because I credit fantasy role playing games for my ability to write, it does not mean I must write within those confines.  Think about Ron Silliman.  Ron writes L-A-N-G-U-A-G-E Poetry, but how do you think he is able to critique other genres of poetry?  That's right.  He reads everything he can.  It's the same for me.

* * *

My biggest regret is there are no other AD&D players in my small town. It has been years since I have had a chance to play a decent session of AD&D, and I fear it will be many more years before I can again, if at all.  So Hail, Hail to the Dungeon Master, and all the friends from my youth who helped me then form the creativity and curiosity helpful to my poetry writing now.

1 comment:

  1. I played a lot of D&D from when I was about 12 to when I was about 18. Never thought of associating it with my turn to poetry, literature, and songwriting, but at some level there is surely a connection having to do with creativity and imagination.

    As for Roger Waters and Neil Young: let's not forget that Neil is also one of the greatest innovators in rock history. :-) ... Not to mention the greatest of the many heirs to Jimi Hendrix when it comes to playing electric guitar.