When somebody puts up a sign saying GONE FISHING, don’t we all get the picture? Whether the picture is literal or metaphorical, there is a certain understanding, shared by an affinity for the condition of entropy it implies.
I myself would like to use GONE TO THE BEACH and rest assured that it serves the same purpose. The ‘fishing’ and ‘the beach’ are not necessarily represented as what the author or the reader have in common at this point. A sign after all is a message using limited words, a picture, or a symbol to create meaning. The rest is rather left open to interpretation.
A friend recently returned from a trip to Scotland bringing back a few treasures for which I am deeply grateful. These cherished tomes include two books of poetry, a pamphlet about publishing poetry, and a free newspaper from the Island of Orkney. I could say a lot about each of these but I wanted to mention here something from the one called Ten Seasons: explorations in Botanics, edited by Gerry Loose, and the entire a product of Luath Press Ltd and the Scottish Poetry Library . It is full of writings and images, both color and black and white, and collects words and images, some installations, all related to what the introduction states:
“Plants and poems share a common rootstock, not only in grammar, but in the jubilation of their wild, wayward growth, abundance of grace and form and the nourishment they provide.
The Japanese poet Matsuo Basho (creator of or practitioner of the hiabun), on hearing women singing a planting song in the rice paddies wrote
the beginning of Culture!
a rice planting song
in the heartland
which caused one commentator to ask: ‘isn’t a rice planting song the spontaneous voice of the soul?”
Every page contains a delectable expression of what ‘exists off the page . . . and offers a rich resource for the interaction of botanic gardens and creative language.’ I think this haiku holds the essence of what this book is about.
One image struck me and finds its way into my essay, because of its beauty, I cannot describe it, it is such a wonderful example of poiesis. I made a scan and you’ll have to forgive the dot pattern. It shows an installation of banners hung around a pond that are readable for the reflection the water makes of them as if on a mirror.
Another reason I find this book truly an inspiration is something of the metaphysical, I suppose, and for the treatment of a subject that indirectly relates to a discussion recently brought up on a friend and author’s blog. (www.dlpotter.blogspot.com) The indirect nourishment of doing things wholeheartedly and in the moment, without concern for the critic or acknowledgement by another. Being one who’s writing often does not live up to my comprehension, that I assume there could be confusion or misunderstanding about something I try to say. Likewise I understand that sometimes this happens to others.
The discussion, which expands from the statements one writer makes about doing things like gardening, canning, or things related to food as opposed to what she considered the serious work of writing, is provocative for other reasons inherent in this book Ten Seasons. Some things I have found often cannot be explained or defined and no matter how hard I try the point seems to become more illusive. Whether or not someone decides not to garden or cook or do any homesteading is not the point, really, each to his own I say. But if someone makes a statement about what someone else is doing, and directly or indirectly implies a misguided subservience or what have you, oh, it just seems problematic. And anyone that reads such a thing and questions something they do with love because of reading it, well, just seems wrong.
I contemplate the possibility that the opposite is true. That if we are serious about what we do, whether it be one thing or several, that they add rather than detract from our sole ambition, for lack of a better word. Perhaps aspiration would be better. Clearly there is importance in focusing on our writing or painting or music, but if we as a writer cook or garden, or play music, or paint because we like to or because we feel a need, then we are creating a balance in our minds and hearts. That without these extra things we might not discover something vital to our more central ambition.
Now, I know, I have been told my writing academic, and I don’t pretend to be any kind of writer. But as a designer, a musician, a visual artist, I have experience and comprehension that moves me to try to say, for whomever may benefit from it by relationship to their own experience and feeling, something about creativity.
Here is where poetry comes into the picture. My guess is I am a visual thinker. Some things cannot be explained. Perhaps because they are transformational, perhaps because we understand them yet we cannot define their meaning. Think of the image of the writing reflected in the water. Ancient scribes wrote about the trees reflected in the water as an explanation of the essence which is of the spirit. No matter how I try to say it, nothing matches the imagination or the image in my mind of reflections in water. We cannot explain it but we understand.
When we read the haiku about a rice planting song, and imagine the author has a vision implying the formation of culture, we start to get an expansion, forms arise, music, imagery, language, movement. That fleeting floating world.
And this cover by the way, with the chipped and layers of pealing paint brings back memories of summer boats and prep work, and wrecks washed up. It speaks its own language.
If you see it then I am honored, if you don’t see it, then I have used too many words. I’m going to the beach.
Since it seems labor day weekend is not a day for blogging or I am not at the beach due to precipitation, and going blogging mad, I am adding some links to the post for truly interested visitors. I figure if you have read this far you deserve some extra nourishment, if in fact you are in need. Finding Readers is Chapter 3 in a 52 page pamphlet by Helena Nelson of Happenstance Press called How
Not to Get Your Poetry Published. There are cases of point and generally good advice, and not entirely whimsical at all, views on the recent to current state of poetry in publishing. One serious issue being the relationship of poets and / to readers, and the question of how will readers find our / your work? “So having a collection published is not the same thing as finding readers. All it means is that the book has one appreciative reader—the publisher / editor and, with a bit of luck, perhaps the publisher / editor’s friends—all six of them.”
For a really academic but intelligent view of the nature of poetry, look at the first few pages of this opening chapter on the History of Scottish Poetry from an online library.