Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Thoughts about poetry and art

I remember going through The Artist's Way a couple of years or so ago and reading the part where many people who have creative yearnings think they will never do great art because they are not tortured souls like Vincent Van Gogh or Sylvia Plath. They feel there is some linkage between inner agony and art. Thus the phrase about "suffering artists", which has as much to do with the soul as their financial circumstances.

But I don't know that that is the case, that we have to be suffering to create. At least that has not been my experience. Yes, in bad times (and we all have them.), my poetry has been a valve that helped me sort my soul out sometimes. But it has also been an outlet for joy, for thankfulness, for grace, all of which are a greater experience in my life than the pain. My favorite poem I have ever written in fact, anticipates a kiss. What could be more wonderful than that?

There have been a lot of new readers of this blog recently. I am not sure why. Originally I think it was read only by a few friends, but somewhere over the past couple of months, more people are reading my little verses, a hundred or two a day, and I want those new readers to understand you can't always read the state of my soul or heart at the moment, by my poems.

At almost 54 years of age, I have a deep well of feelings that go back decades. At any time, something will bring back a feeling memory that might be twenty years old, or twenty minutes old. Everything in the journey contributes to each verse.

Often it is images that spawn the feeling memories, something I see or hear or smell that brings them to the surface and weaves into the poem. Or a bible verse that triggers them. That, the trigger, is generally immediate and recent.

When I write the poems, they are mine, but the moment I publish them here, they become yours, and my images and thoughts are translated by your own experience. And so often you get things out of them that I never imagined.

Does that make it less real, less valid? I don't think so. I believe all art is God working through us in some way. It comes from a spirit of creativity that is part of being created in God's image. And if he spawns a creative thought in me that says one thing to me, why could not a God that created the universe also make that thought say something else to a myriad of other people? To say that could not be so would be to put limits on a God that has no limits.

I am grateful for you who read my verse, and grateful when one or another touches you. It is, in a small way, my witness, not in a theological sense, but in a heart-sense.

But, please, when you read, don't imagine as you read of pain that I am in pain, or when you read of joy I am in joy. I am generally remembering, feeling again and letting those things out in a way I know how.

Have a good week, all. I am traveling the next week or two, so the posts may be less frequent. All is well however.


PS - The picture is of a historic home in Botetourt County, Santelane, before it was restored. You can click on it for a larger version.

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