By Michael Milton

December 31, 2015, 8:00 am

 
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‘The Art of Seeing’ by Michael Milton

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Brooklyn Poet Walt Whitman, born and raised in Bed-Stuy

My modest return to writing poetry (see November 15, 2015 ‘Bloggers’ section of The Brooklyn Reader), was prompted, in part, after discovering  Bed-Stuy poet Walt Whitman’s evocative opus, CROSSING BROOKLYN FERRY.  My excitement for the form was quickly re-kindled.  Whitman’s long lined stanzas spin out, fugue-like;  future and past, spiritual and earthly play simultaneously, his words brimming with new and unexpected possibilities.

So, this last ‘Art of Seeing’ of 2015 and the first which will appear in January of 2016 are both, in part, a response to this personal, poetical renaissance.

Poetry has always felt to me to be an ‘impulsive’ art form; there is a kind of urgency, a fleeting moment which, if captured on the page, might encapsulate some truth about the human experience.

With year-end reflections, I see my own life as a series of moments which fit onto either one side or the other of a ledger with headings reading ‘satisfaction’ or ‘regret.’  I admire people who respond to life ‘with their gut,’ impulsively.  I don’t often trust my gut—a regret.

imagesStill, some of my greatest satisfactions this year have been derived from moments when I HAVE manned up and wandered down some unexplored path guided by wordless instinct.

For example, early in my days singing with New Amsterdam Singers, I met one of the fellows in the chorus and developed a gut feeling about him; a ‘bro-crush,’ if you wish, though we hardly knew one another; we sang in different sections and I don’t recall us even speaking often in those first months.

My response to him was multi-layered:  first, I remember hearing him sing; a lovely, clear, emotionally anchored tenor.   Simultaneously, there was something about his face and expression; he reminded me of the Byzantine  mosaics of Christian saints which covered the walls and ceilings of houses of worship from Rome to Constantinople around 1000 AD; broad, open, expressive faces, short clipped hair,  light beards, round eyes filled with wonder, pain and revelation.

Poet Nate Mickelson

Poet Nate Mickelson

For whatever reason, he inspired my curiosity.  I was patient.  I observed him often writing notes off on his own during breaks or before performances.  After a year and a half, my mental dossier on Professor Nate Mickelson included the following facts:  He had lived in Brooklyn; his former relationship had flourished and ended there; and he was about to receive his doctorate in poetry.

Ah, back to poetry!  Timing, I suppose, is everything.  I know I’m stretching it here, but there is a sort of ‘art’ in learning to trust that impulsive voice within ourselves; and maybe another kind of art in actually acting upon it.  I did act and I’m thankful for that, inspired not only by Professor Mickelson’s own poetry, but by his observations on Brooklyn’s literary son Walt Whitman.

 

 

SPECULATION by Nate Mickelson

For years I’ve written poems with you in mind,

specifically you, because you demand

boldface honesty, not lies, not pretense,

but the everyday and the everywhere.

 

As a result sometimes the poems are hard,

discomforting, strange in their questioning,

and sometimes they are soft, pliant, take on

the impressions of thoughts I think you share.

 

I write about family, often men,

about Brooklyn, being scared, sad, damaged,

about sex or lack of sex, about joy,

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About The Author

Michael Milton worked as an Associate Producer with Marty Richards, Sam Crothers and Robert Fryer at The Producer Circle Co. in New York City for over twenty years. Broadway: THE LIFE (2 Tony Awards), SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS (1 Tony Award), LA CAGE AUX FOLLES (Revival; 1 Tony Award and personal Drama Desk Award), Chita--A DANCER'S LIFE. Film: CHICAGO (Academy Award, Best Picture, Marty Richards). Michael has also co-produced many philanthropic events, including the legendary Red Ball benefitting NYU Medical Center and the New York Center for Children. As a writer, Michael has been featured in The New York Times, 'About Men' column, House Beautiful, Genre Magazine, The James White Literary Review amongst others; wrote the book for two musicals, THE NIGHTINGALE and FARAWAY BAYOU. Co-wrote (with Leslie Gore) the book for children's musical THE MERCHILD.

Michael Milton worked as an Associate Producer with Marty Richards, Sam Crothers and Robert Fryer at The Producer Circle Co. in New York City for over twenty years. Broadway: THE LIFE (2 Tony Awards), SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS (1 Tony Award), LA CAGE AUX FOLLES (Revival; 1 Tony Award and personal Drama Desk Award), Chita--A DANCER'S LIFE. Film: CHICAGO (Academy Award, Best Picture, Marty Richards). Michael has also co-produced many philanthropic events, including the legendary Red Ball benefitting NYU Medical Center and the New York Center for Children. As a writer, Michael has been featured in The New York Times, 'About Men' column, House Beautiful, Genre Magazine, The James White Literary Review amongst others; wrote the book for two musicals, THE NIGHTINGALE and FARAWAY BAYOU. Co-wrote (with Leslie Gore) the book for children's musical THE MERCHILD.

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