People who love poetry can spend hours contemplating a ten-word world. To love poetry you need to love words and word placement. Poetry can be intentional, intuitive, musical, thought-provoking: really, it can be as exciting or boring as any other type of writing. But there is something unique in poetry, something that makes me slow down when I read so I can taste the words, something that makes my coworkers wrinkle their noses, something that makes poets the most under-celebrated group of writers in North America.
Why does poetry have a bad rap? What happened to the days when ladies in long gowns and gentlemen in riding boots sat around on uncomfortable high backed chairs reading Byron? Why do high school students across Canada collectively groan when their teachers write the word “Poetry” on the board to indicate the next unit of study? Continue reading
By nature creativity is good. It is about bringing something into being, about channelling emotion and imagination into a productive task. Writing can be joyous and fulfilling and engaging and inspiring and bright. But writing can also be scary and depressing and boring and dark. Creativity has a shadow.
This afternoon I watched parts of Whitney Houston’s funeral, her homegoing, on television. Rev. Jesse Jackson said “Life is sunshine and rain, it’s joy and pain.” The same can be said for the artistic life.
Whitney Houston, despite her beauty, talent, and success, was haunted by the same insecurities as writers and artists who toil away unrecognized. We wonder if the work is good enough. We worry that our audience will like the work. We doubt that we can pull it off, finish the work, sustain the creative energy required.
What is it all for? Who do we hope to impress? What change do we crave when the project is over? I am just a hack. No one reads my work. No one will care if I ever write again. Why is it so hard to write just for writing’s sake? I am stupid. I am lazy. My story is boring. My poem is moronic. People will laugh. My friends will mock me. Why would anyone ever want to read what I have written? I will die alone in my writing room staring at a blank page. Continue reading