Monday, March 21, 2011

Writing Life

Life was once referenced back to a blank sheet of paper, where the person who lived the life wrote a story of the life in minutes, hours, words, deeds, and emotion. There was no guarantee as to how many pages a person got only that they would be the only one who wrote on the pages and no one else. I always wondered how someone illiterate would view that analogy, and how people who rather paint would see it.  The analogy is valid, in my opinion, regardless of the medium. A person who knows no art may indeed live a life that is full and rich but I do not see how.  It may be there are artists with colors and words the rest of us cannot see or feel or touch as of yet, much like the early poet who was one of the few who could read and write. Lonely was the human being who in the midst of a population that did not read, scribbled out poetry late at night, wondering if it meant anything at all, or nothing.
            Of course, it did not mean anything at all, and it did not mean nothing at all, either. The Lonely Poet died and all his, or her, works were forever lost. A friend of mine, who was a terrible poet, a horrible writer, and yet full of passion, wrote poetry on a small tablet, and each poem she would finish she would take outside in the yard and burn. The world in which she lived did not respect poems, or writing, or any pursue of the mind or the heart. Yet each of her burned poems lives somehow in some other poet, in some other heart who knows nothing but it must beat again and again, to write a poem.
            Strip away all culture, all learned behavior, all the trappings of the civilized world as we have described it, and invented it for ourselves and for those to come after we are gone, and you will still find the Lonely Poet. Deep in the caves of our past, are drawings, crude yet elegant, of our world as we once knew it, with horses and bison and lions. On the cracked and broken pottery unearthed from a time before we even knew writing are spirals and waves and designs etched on earthenware, from common people whose lives are all but forgotten except in these shards.  The need for the human mind to express what does not exist anywhere else but within the mind is, and has always been, and will ever be. It is not the domain of the great and famous. It is not the property of those who use their mediums to the fullest but to each and every one of us, the Lonely Poets.
            When I was a child, somewhere between eight and ten likely, I spent the first two weeks of the Summer with my paternal grandmother in Rochelle Georgia. Her sister ran a hardware store and in exchange for me helping clean up after work they allowed me to work off the price of a fishing lure that I wanted to buy my father for Father’s Day.  But I wanted not only to give me the lure, but to also make it fun, and interesting. I was going to take a small cardboard box, recess a piece as to make a platform, and turn that platform into the banks of a pond. I then took a piece of tinfoil to make the surface of the pond, and I decorated the banks of the pond with tiny stones, and pieces of sticks that were supposed to be logs. I made a fisherman out of a tiny wooden tube, and glue a stick to him for a pole, and the fishing line that hung down below the surface of the tinfoil was connected to the lure that my father would pull up as his first catch with it. For all my plans and details and desires, I was likely the very most ambisinister child ever born. It did not help that my father had been quite the craftsman when he was a child, and had carved a herd of deer out of an apple crate with a pocket knife. This was no herd of deer but rather a bungled mess. My father took one look at it and wondered aloud what on earth it might have supposed to have been. It fell apart as it examined it, and even the line broke as he tried to get the lure to come up. It was a mess, and he took me I shouldn’t have brought all those sticks and rocks into my grandmother’s house and cluttered up the place. She took him aside and scolded him for it and when it returned he pretended to be impressed but I got rid of it as quickly as I could. It was a very long two hour ride back home with my father but I was used to that by at that point in my life.
            Remember my friend who burned her poems? I never told her they were wretched. I never said to her they were much like reading long Hallmark cards. I always told her that she had the soul of a great poet, and that was so true, because she did. I tried to get her to read the poetry of a variety of poets, but she always returned to the same pattern, because that was where she felt most comfortable and that was where she liked to write. Who is to say that in the years to come some secret stash of poems she has written might become famous?
            You wouldn’t have come this far if you didn’t understand me. The page is still blank, in front of us, and this is an exciting time to be creative. I cannot speak for anyone but myself in this, but I can tell you nothing stops you from being who you want to be right now. The possibilities endless, the time not, yet ever it may bring, sticks or pebbles, or pottery, or poems, being the Lonely Poet is something you can chose to be, or not.

Take Care,
Mike

1 comment:

  1. Okay, so I said I was going to bed but I decided to read one more, and this title captured my attention.
    I wish I could explain how very much I COMPLETELY understand and appreciate this essay. I won't be able to, there are not words enough to convey it. But it speaks to my heart, as writer, and as someone whose family (as much as I love them so dearly) never, ever really understood my need to write and to read so much when I was young. It's not that they didn't value education, nor that they weren't proud of me...they just didn't GET it?
    I don't think anyone, unless they share this need to convey themselves by writing, can really understand it. That's why I think I was SO drawn to your writing back in 2007 when I discovered it on Gather. I knew, from reading you, that you GOT it! I have another good friend from high school who GOT and I think the two of us felt like aliens sometimes because we were able to speak the same language.
    The Lonely Poet is inside of us all, it's just that most people drown out that voice that tries desperately to come through the muck and mire of everyday life and all the crap that's pushed in our faces. It's so much worse now that it used to be...so much competing for out time and attention. And THAT is one thing I truly admire about you, your perseverance and devotion to writing. I'm not as good, I try, but I'm not as good. I keep you as an inspiration....a role model to work toward being more like in terms of writing every day :)

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