Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Some Thoughts on Biker Poetry

I've been thinking a bit about the genre of Biker Poetry, if in fact it is a separate genre. If the definition of genre has to do with certain characteristics that make it so, then I believe it is a true genre. Is some of it mere doggerel? Well, certainly, but no more so than in any other genre, and just because a poem is classed "doggerel", doesn't mean it is less entertaining. Biker poetry comes at us in a wide variety of ways and means. I've read (and sometimes written) rhymed and free verse, formal, haiku, humorous, sad, serious, and ridiculous poetry. It's all, as far as I'm concerned, Biker poetry, and as such, worthy of inclusion in the genre.
In many ways, Biker Poetry possesses characteristics similar to another populargenre, Cowboy Poetry. Both seek to portray, promote, and popularize the mythology, culture, and lifestyles(real or imagined)of their nominative subjects, Bikers and Cowboys. Both are largely written by poets who are also either cowboys and bikers or who have a close connection to and understanding of those lifestyles. There seems to be some flexibility here. Can a ranch wife or a Texas feed store operator write "Cowboy" poetry? Most probably. Can a biker's "old lady" or the owner of a motorcycle shop whose busy schedule allows little riding time write "biker" poems? Certainly, if their muse so moves them.

Much Cowboy Poetry, although often published in books and other printed medium, is mean't to be recited or performed aloud. I've not seen much of this with biker poetry, a pity really, because much of what I've read would really possess more power as spoken word. The subject matter of Biker poems would lend itself well to being recited by the poet to his main audience, an audience of bikers. Much biker poetry could work well in the Hip-Hop/Slam/Spoken Word/Performance genre which is currently popular around the country.

Every year, Cowboy poets and their fans gather in conclaves like Elko's National Cowboy Poetry Gathering and in similar events throughout the western U.S. They gather to share their poetry and their love of the legends and lifestyle that surrounds it. There are not similar gatherings for Biker Poets. There are however, gatherings for bikers. Sturgis, Daytona, Las Vegas, Americade, Reno, Hollister, Laughlin, Laconia, and countless other rallies and get-togethers where bikers, motorcyclists, their fans and associates gather to share their common interests. They could be sharing their poetry as well.
How about a National Biker Poets gathering at one of these events or elsewhere? After all, our myths and legends are quite similar to those of the cowboys. We just ride a different kind of horse.

If you're not familiar with biker poetry here where you can find some. First, let tell send to Wild Bill's Culture Corner a collection of the poetry of Bill Rogers , publisher of the Alaska motorcycle magazine Midnight Sun Rider.In addition to his own poetry Bill also accepts work from other poets and offers it up on his Guest Authors page, including two poems by yours truly. (I'm planning on accepting submissions here too. I'll keep you posted.)

Check out Biker Poet's Page and Biker Poet's Road Poet eMagazine. Peddlar writes and publishes some righteous work.

Biker Poetry by Sorez the Scribe
has become a regular visit for me as has Biker Poetry and Words, a part of the larger biker community site, V-Twin Biker. Biker P&W advertises itself as "The Largest Collection of Biker Poetry by individual Bikers on the Internet." Could be.
Here's a collection of Motorcycle Haiku or as I like to call them, "Baiku." (That may be a bit too pretentious, but what the hell.) I like these and have tried my hand at them myself.
I've visited the page of Biker Poets and Writers Association
where I read their "Mission Statement" and I've tried to e-mail the publisher but his e-mail is dead. Peddlar is listed as the submissions editor, but I've yet to hear back from him.

There's more Biker poetry out there. A quick search on Google will reveal this. If you're so inclined, try your hand at writing some of your own. If you just want to read or listen, we poets would be nothng without an audience.


Sorez said...

Biker, Poetry? To the average Joe those two words put together would bring a chuckle. And comments like, "I didn't know bikers could read let alone write poetry." To those in the know and the large community of Biker Poets, Biker Poetry is respected and revered. If I wasn't a Biker would I be a Poet? Hard to say. But probably not. Being a biker and writing poetry for me go hand in hand. The road stirs my emotions and the wind is my muse. Occasionally the genre of Biker Poetry finds it's way into a few motorcycle magazines. Although even the magazines underate or don't comprehend this powerful genre of writing. There is a long list of Biker Poets that share their thoughts of the ridden word. Biker Poetry has not made me famous. No matter, Scribing purges my soul. Heals wounds that could not be healed in any other way. To me the pen is a tool, just as important as a wrench. Building and riding motorcycles, sharing my thoughts from the road, I live the life of a Biker poet and am damn proud of it!
~Sorez The Scribe
~Biker Poet~

Uglicoyote said...

"Scribing purges my soul. Heals wounds that could not be healed in any other way".
Yeah, I can dig that. Unlike you I'm not much of wrench and I don't build bikes, but I'm a fair hand with words. I love to ride. Solo, in a large group, with one or two friends, I don't care. I enjoy the company of others who share my passion. The cathartic effects of rolling down the road are enhanced by putting down the words. In my mind, it's all the same. Ridng a bike and writing about riding a bike are two parts of the whole.