Where does inspiration lie? Everywhere!

This is my attempt to pounce on and then shape the words I breathe.

Please join me with your comments and make this a dialogue . . . and visit Susan's Poetry!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

A documentary and a movie

Sometimes at evening there's a face        
that sees us from the deeps of a mirror.   
Art must be that sort of mirror,               
disclosing to each of us his face.  
     ~from "The Art of Poetry" by Jorge Louis Borges


Two great pieces of art just showed myself to me, and neither of them are my own art.  The first is the documentary (2012) and the other is the film Pariah (2011).  Both feel like truth to me.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Celebrating Borges' Birthday

 I have to thank Maria Popova today for her 113th birthday remembrance of Jorge Louis Borges "Borges on Love and Loss" in The Atlantic and also in her blog post at Brain Pickings.**  I had intended to discuss the poem she published today in his honor, but stumbled into the middle of controversy:  Is the poem "You Learn" by Jorge Louis Borges or is it "After a While" by Veronica A. Shoffstall?

My online research would have it both ways: Shoffstall published it in 1971; his dates are not clear.  One online version lists Shoffstall as translator.  One blog gives Borge's Spanish version with this reference "texts recovered, 1919-1929. by Jorge Luis Borges, Sara Luisa del Carril.  Published by Barcelona: Emece, 1997, 2001, 2002, 2003"--but I have not verified this.  I found no evidence of the existence of any publication on-line, and the question is not important enough to me to take on the footwork of going to the libraries and publishing houses that might have the answer.  I agree with two commentators that the poem doesn't have the rich allusions, images, and surrealism that are customary in Borges' style. Yet, I know he had a life beyond his writing that was more practical than surreal.

Hmm.  I am bemused by my lazy refusal of the detective role in this case.  I love research that finds sources of streams.  Along with other PhDs, I was trained as a "history detective" before the television show existed.  I am bemused, also, by being bemused!  It is a much more pleasant experience than my normal shame at doing less than possible, and more pleasant too than the perfectionism of actually doing it.  HA!  I have fallen right into Borges' "what if" world in which time is not reliable and change and changelessness co-exist.  He recognizes issues like perfectionism, and his characters could easily get caught in a loop of impassible passion.  

I see that I am celebrating Borges without the poem in question, an irony that I suspect Borges would like.  I will end by including a poem that is definitely one of the masters. 

by Jorge Luis Borges
To gaze at a river made of time and water
And remember Time is another river.
To know we stray like a river
and our faces vanish like water.

To feel that waking is another dream
that dreams of not dreaming and that the death
we fear in our bones is the death
that every night we call a dream.

To see in every day and year a symbol
of all the days of man and his years,
and convert the outrage of the years
into a music, a sound, and a symbol.

To see in death a dream, in the sunset
a golden sadness--such is poetry,
humble and immortal, poetry,
returning, like dawn and the sunset.

Sometimes at evening there's a face
that sees us from the deeps of a mirror.
Art must be that sort of mirror,
disclosing to each of us his face.

They say Ulysses, wearied of wonders,
wept with love on seeing Ithaca,
humble and green. Art is that Ithaca,
a green eternity, not wonders.

Art is endless like a river flowing,
passing, yet remaining, a mirror to the same
inconstant Heraclitus, who is the same
and yet another, like the river flowing. 

Note: I borrowed this poem from "Famous Poets and Poems."  If you wish to quote it in any way, please refer to my source.  I have no copyright for this poem.  I just enjoy it.  And I thank Maria Popova for her reminder of this birthday and for her commitment to creativity.

** I removed the links to Maria's article because it has been removed.  You may find Brain Pickings here.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Connections and poetry

Last I wrote here, my holy experiment was to read one of my poems aloud.  Since then I have continued writing so that now, 14 poems later, I am ready to reflect on how interconnections abound.  

I had my first publication of sorts on-line a few days ago when Third Sunday Blog Carnival linked my blog to theirs and featured my poem “Pushed.” This poem about buttons was a response to an open challenge at dVerse PoetsPub.  Through responding to that challenge and others, I roamed many poetry workshops to interact with poets and ideas.  Eventually one of them, Imaginary Gardens with Real Toads, asked me to become a member. I joined with delight as the poems and comments from poets there lived up to its mission, which reads in part:
The purpose of this writing community is to ensure an intimate and supportive environment and an improvement of our writing skills. We are always open for change and knowledge.
The name of the blog reflects its purpose.  It is a fragment of a line from Marianne Moore’s poem “Poetry.”  The first line of the poem—“I, too, dislike it: there are things that are important beyond all this fiddle”—leads to her list of poetic crimes until she says:

. . . nor till the poets among us can be
     "literalists of
      the imagination"--above
         insolence and triviality and can present
for inspection, "maginary gardens with real toads in them,"
      shall we have
   it. . . . 

“Real toads” are to me the details that bring truth to senses.   
This is the perfect workshop for me as I practice my art.

Connections help me extend my own holy experiment to see where it leads and take opportunities as they appear.  Thus, a few days ago I completed an interview for the Poets United series “TheLife of a Poet” which should air soon. I didn’t refuse because it was too soon or I wasn’t published yet or any of the other ways I hide.  All I have to do is continue doing what I am doing while listening to the still small voice guide me on the path.

One thing is clear: being a poet is not about making money. Poet Charles Simic speaks to this in “Poets and Money,” today’s post in the NYR blog at The New York Review of Books:

We never got rich in the past and won’t see a dime in the future. Despite copyright laws, most of our poems are already freely available to millions of people on the Internet and in this age of short attention spans, poetry may end up by being the only literature people will read. With no bookstores left and libraries shut down, lovers in need of additional romantic stimulus will have to reach for their iPhones and find a poem suitable for the occasion to read to each other. Poetry’s strength comes from such practical uses. Everyone has heard of poems being read at marriage ceremonies and funerals, but I suspect nobody has ever tried to inflict a chapter of a novel or a short story on that kind of gathering. No wonder writers and intellectuals by and large disdain poetry.  “Poets work for nothing . . . .”

Simic goes on to describe the one occasion when he thought it might be about money. His anecdote is farcical in the extreme, until: 

. . . one bright sunny morning I rose before anyone else, sat at my desk and read what I’d been working on, and realized that everything about them was totally fake. I tore the poems up with great hurry and embarrassment and went out to take a long walk with my dog.

He couldn’t market what working-to-order did to his poem.  He, like me and the poets I am meeting now, writes with a different kind of urgency.   The toads we reveal in our poems are very definitely real.