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Sunday, November 11, 2007

On Writing [2]

Read the first part here.

Readers often ask: "Who and what do you write for? Do you write for yourself, for others, or maybe both? Do you write for fun, or just for the release? Don't you mind making your personal feelings public?"

Everyone has their own reasoning as to why they write. I don't really try to determine my driving force any more. Sometimes it's like a hand from the sky that presses down the thoughts into my head and I am a medium for that; sometimes it's a hand from deep within and I need to write as therapy. The only condition is that the subject matter must be important to me. Because I do write to let go, but I also write to find myself, to let others find me, or to try and guide others on their own self discovery.

If a writer goes public with their work, it does indeed belong to every man and every woman: that is a strength, not a weakness.

When people get in touch to tell me they write down my poetical works and keep them in special books to read again, or that they find a special sentence that touches them enough to write it out and stick it on their fridge for example, then I feel that those people have added an extra dimension to my works which would never have been possible had I not published them on the Net.

Poetical Reasoning: My Dust and Grime

Whether I share a poem with the public or not and the value of doing so can be determined by an answer to "Who and what do you write for?"

Poems are personal. I hope that at the very least who I am - and sometimes who we are as humans - shines through the poetry. I am shining my own creative light in my dark places in an attempt to illuminate the way, even if it is through an often cryptic design. So I'm not surprised when someone sees something else then what I intended. Just as a stranger walks by you on the street, they can only form an idea about you from that immediate experience.

Experience in any form, moves us. The writing of the poem, the movement of the pen, the blank page, the ink, the keyboard... Often when something inside clicks to tell me I've finished the poem, I feel it is no longer mine. Even though the poem is part of me, I am always changing, moving, ageing, but the words of the poem are static. So, when I return many months later to my poems they seem the work of a stranger, or like footprints I left behind in the sand that were soon washed away by the shore.

That is when I really realise that I write to release myself, release my creativity, to empty myself, so that all things following my emptiness can flow through me like the wind blows through a window, fresh and unfiltered.

I am the window opening, and the dust and grime accumulating at the window sill are the poems in which I write - blowing them away. I share with people my dust and grime; some will grimace, some will sneeze and some will see the life moving in the microbes. And some readers will see I am just the window opening and fly straight through.

Learning with Literature: Writing is About Us

"through this door/you enter my poetry.../here is truth-telling/territory." (2-8)
from "Sancrosanct" (Handprints)

In studying poetry I never quite agreed with the ancient or Elizabethan views when Plato said that poets should be excluded from the ideal republic because they are such liars and Shakespeare expressed in the fifth act of his play A Midsummer Night's Dream (5.1.7-17.) that what made a poet was an excess of imagination.

Today, as I work out my poetical metaphors I am working out my life's own metaphors. Therefore, notwithstanding the creative style and structure, the poetry's subject matter has to be true to the poet's self, even if it is no longer true in the future. A poem needs to be honest at its core, in order to strike a chord with the reader, too.

For example, my truth isn't melancholia, and I don't think I can write about it with the honesty that those poets that suffer from it do. Such honesty in turn helps me to understand, and will help others - including the writer - to live through it. Poetry is not fictional prose, where we might use the far reaches of our imagination; thus, possibly more so than any other creative subject, in personal poetical works we should write what we have known and experienced first-hand.

What we regard as 'real' poetry doesn't have to be all doom and gloom, either. The English romantic poet Wordsworth was only sort of right when he said, "Poets in their youth begin in gladness/ But thereof comes in the end despondency and madness" ("Resolution and Independence", VII, 1807). It's true that sometimes contemporary poets skip the gladness and go straight to the despondency, but do you have to go mad to be a poet? What about those spiritual poets that write to illuminate god and the goodness in humanity?

My personal belief is that as in all things there must be a mixture; it is a journey were you see all levels of emotions. There is this progression in my 10 Acts of poetry. There is joy, hope, despondency, depression, death and life all shining through humanity's beam - with me as the torch. For as unjust as life may appear to be, it does one thing justice: it represents all changing points of view. Then, so too, must poetry.

While we change, our world is also in need of changing. Indeed it is changing. What gives me the faith that our experiences with global difficulties is simply the birth pangs of the arrival of a better future, is my own personal journey of development. In order to be able to effect change, I write not only to understand my own changes but to understand my world. Interestingly however, always pushing for honesty in poetry has taught me that our world can only be changed if it is understood honestly - as it really is, not as one would wish it to be, or as some a priori theory proclaims it to be.

This is why human literature is in its nature a deeply involving, and a deeply relevant subject. The disciplined study of literature is concerned with something which individuals would do anyway even if the disciplined study did not exist: compose poems, act out drama, write novels and read them. When all is said and done, writing will exist as long as we do - good writing maybe even longer.

There is just one qualification: I do not write to exist, I write because I exist. And if it be my truth, I will always write with honesty and hope.

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