“I believe the world is beautiful and that poetry, like bread, is for everyone, and that my veins don’t end in me but in the unanimous struggle for life, love, little things, landscape and bread.”
-Graffiti on a wall in the Mission District of San Francisco
I believe poetry is for everyone. Although many people who read serious print matter and quality fiction do not read poetry, I think that this is their loss. The poetry coming out today is accessible, relevant and enjoyable in concept and sound. Take look at Billy Collins, Natasha Trethaway or even Louise Glück, the 2020 winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature.
There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception.” ― Aldous Huxley
For the artist, the world is shaped by perspective. It is that ability to view things from their own unique point of view, yet contextualize this point of view in factual reality. Can everything be defined in a limited world? Can the artist place his/her/their work in the larger framework?
As a writer, I try to contextualize my work in the larger world, but it changes so rapidly. I find I have just gotten my pen around one situation when another arises to contradict the first.
I have been doing phone banks these past few weeks to get out the vote for the presidential election. I try to listen to other people’s perspectives when I speak with them because if there is no dialogue, there is no bridge to unification and understanding between people. If I can’t listen to someone, I can’t convince them of my point of view. The country is so divided that I fear we will never come together again. There are so many signs in front of people’s homes, even in my own community, that advocate different philosophies. How will we all find a common voice after the election?
The dream state is sometimes a source of inspiration for writers, but this is the opposite of reality. But writes thrive on illusion, on an alternate view of what is.
As we pass through daily living, we pass through many―colored lenses that paint our writing with its own view. Yet how do we bring our view back to the world view, so everyone can relate?
My book, Touch My Head Softly, was recommended by Brilliant Light Publishing. It is my perspective on Alzheimer’s Disease. Take a look:
What writing releases for me is multifaceted. It gives me permission and justification for my sorrow, frustration, anger. I can put it onto the page, and it may stay there, in my ongoing journal, but even if I am the only one to see it, it’s still a release.
It’s a spiritual path, practiced through writing. I’m not talking about God necessarily. I’m a recovering Catholic who is currently agnostic, letting in the possibility, but not really knowing.
Creativity is a natural process and blocks to it are unnatural. Writing unblocks those pathways and gives us access to our true selves.
I took a spiritual journey in writing my latest book of poems, “Touch My Head Softly.”
I released my pain and frustration about having a partner who was stricken by Alzheimer’s Disease and eventually died, leaving me devastated. Releasing those feelings in the vessels of those poems has been healing for me.
“Touch My Head Softly” is in pre– sales at Finishing Line Press:
“Act as if what you do makes a difference, it does.” William James
Can a book make a difference? We are told our actions make a difference, but can a book, with diminishing print sales, lack of readership, and confusion about meaning, make a difference. This topic has been on my mind ever since I decided to donate part of the proceeds of my book of poetry about my partner who died of Alzheimer’s to the Alzheimer’s Association.
When I approached my publisher about it, she didn’t respond. When I approached the Alzheimer’s Association, they had never heard of such a thing and thanked me for the donation. When I told my friends, they asked if I thought I would sell enough copies to even form a decent donation.
So why do it? Some five million people are living with Alzheimer’s, and the number is growing. I never had it, but the disease killed my partner and wrecked my life ten years ago. It’s strange to write, publish and then read about this experience. I thought if I contributed something to the research, it might ameliorate this whole process.
I also found it hard to talk to people about the donation, because they may see it as some strange hero thing. On the other hand, it can also be viewed as self-serving as people may buy the book because part of the proceeds will go to the Alzheimer’s Association, but as Adele, when she was asked if she was nervous hosting Saturday Night Live, recently said, “But if there was ever a time for any of us to jump head first into the deep end with our eyes closed and hope for the best it’s 2020 right?”
When I have writer’s block, I sometimes freewrite.
What is freewriting? A writing exercise in which you write quickly and continuously, with a free association of ideas.
Freewriting is a good technique to shut down your “inner censor” and let your writing flow. The idea is to put down your thoughts as they arise, without judging them, or the way in which they get expressed.
“If you want readers to breathe life into your writing so that they get a powerful experience from it, then you must breathe experience into your words as you write. I don’t know why it should be the case that if you experience what you are writing about–if you go to the bamboo–it increases the chances of the reader’s experiencing the bamboo. But that’s the way it seems to work.”
The basic technique is to simply write without stopping for a set amount of time, say 10 to 15 minutes. Don’t correct what you write. See what happens.
My latest collection of poetry is coming out soon. Check it out:
I don’t know how you deal with self-doubt and self-criticism, but I know that loving life helps.
In the midst of a pandemic, I know this is hard. But I have been trying to come up every day with something to be grateful for. I live in Western Massachusetts, which has some of the loveliest landscapes and lakes on the earth. I canoe with my partner often. I find focusing on nature is a great antidote. I have a porch that looks out on a beautiful meadow and even while I’m sitting in my study writing, I’ll go out to the porch and look at a tree or plant or flower.
My latest collection of poetry is coming out soon. Check it out: