Friday, September 2, 2011

It Must Be Received

A poem by Valerie Martinez titled "Bowl," begins thus:

Turn it over and look up
into the sphere of heaven.  

I've been a little preoccupied with bowls lately, it seems.  The shape of them, all that we do with them.  The possibilities - think of all the permutations - colour shape size. The materials they are made from.  We use them for mixing, serving.  We use them to decorate.  We eat cereal from them early in the morning, barely awake.

One of my favorite books (and I've talked about this in my own book Calm Things) is titled The Gift by Lewis Hyde.  If you're a writer, artist, or anyone who is creative, I consider this an essential book.

In the chapter "The Commerce of the Creative Spirit" Hyde says, "An essential portion of any artist's labor is not creation so much as invocation.  Part of the work cannot be made, it must be received; and we cannot have this gift except, perhaps, by supplication, by courting, by creating within ourselves that 'begging bowl' to which the gift is drawn."

In the same chapter he quotes Ginsberg who talks about how the results of spontaneous writing can be embarrassing, but:

"The cure for that is to write things down which you will not publish and which you won't show people.  To write you can actually be free to say anything you want...

It means abandoning being a poet, abandoning your careerism, abandoning even the idea of writing any poetry, really abandoning, giving up as hopeless - abandoning the possibility of really expressing yourself to the nations of the world.  Abandoning the idea of being a prophet with honor and dignity, and abandoning the glory of poetry and just settling down in the muck of your own mind...You really have to make a resolution just to write for the sense of not writing to impress yourself, but just writing what your self is saying."

Just writing what your self is saying.....the muck of your own mind.  Completely true and one of the most difficult things to do.

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