Grumpy’s Great YouTube Adventure
There was a time when poets and storytellers didn’t write things down, they spoke them. I always wanted to do that and now, YouTube is my big chance.
On my YouTube channel Poetry & Purpose, you will find two kinds of videos:
First, spoken version so of writings by other authors, including “German Poetry Today” and Gracian’s “The Art of Worldly Wisdom;”
So … just me ranting.
Though YouTube is the heart of Poetry & Purpose, we try to make everything as available as possible, so you will also find us on TikTok, Instagram and Facebook, as well as via our Poetry & Purpose website and the Substack newsletter/blog of the same name.
My contribution to the contemporary German poetry section “German Poetry Today” is, ironically, neither contemporary nor German.
As a fan of medieval literature, I decided to re-imagine some of my favorite poems by my favorite German medieval troubadour, Walther von der Vogelweide – into English.
And yes, they turn out very different from the originals.
There’s nothing like the satisfaction of pouring a glass of whiskey – or some other strange drink I can’t resist – on a Friday night, relaxing and thinking about the things that came thundering down upon you during the week:
Work, unexpected occurrences, something someone said, politics, writing, getting older and seeing things differently, life.
So I do it in front of a camera.
Then I pour myself another whiskey, go say hello to Astrid and start the weekend.
So this is it.
It’s not trading bon mots with Billy Wilder, Rilke and Heidegger in smokey cafes late into the night, that’s true …
But there are readings and parties and literary events;
there are writers and poets, and they’re all worried about making money and how to write well;
and there are funny and strange meetings with people – who are unlike people from other places.
And once in a while there is an interesting conversation and an insight into life that makes me stop and think.
Some of it, I get on video.
I used to hate Mondays.
But as I launched my final effort to enter into a last life, Mondays become more and more an opportunity for a new start, like a new year or a new job or a new love.
I can plan, I can see clearly what needs to be done and it feels like I can do it. Today I find Monday mornings full of promise and vibrating with life.
So what do I do? I rant about it.
That’s the exciting, apocalyptic message we hear everyday, until we feel like we are all the last freedom fighters in a sci-fi dystopian teen Netflix series. It’s a great story, but alas, it’s not reality.
In fact, the world has never been better, the future never brighter, the opportunities never more plentiful. It’s just not cool to say so.
But I’m not cool.
That’s what “Odes to Life” is about.
Writing is a Sacred Act
By teaching creative writing, I learn a lot – not only about writing, what it means, how it works, but about life.
A story is a mirror of life – to tell a story means to try to understand life and to put the chaos of it in order – to give it meaning.
These videos are both about the art of writing – thoughts about storytelling I have as I think about how a story works – but it is also about what storytelling teaches us about life