Sunday, May 30, 2010
Passing It On
The other evening a friend and I were having a discussion about the artist in the community, not the worth and purpose of the artists so much as how they fit into everyday life. He’s a musician and said that the most satisfaction he gets out of public performance is not based in praise or applause but the sense that some of the audience had been “touched.” He explained that it was an awareness of sorts that what he had been doing had let someone reach into himself to find a creative spark; it need not necessarily apply to music but any way of creating something other. The artist’s role in the community, he suggested, was to pass on the knowledge that all have a talent and should display it to the best of our ability. It doesn’t matter what, just that each one create.
I told him I could understand that about musicians and their instruments in a public performance, even actors although they hid their real selves behind a character. A visual artist is exposed through the works hanging in public galleries, film makers etc. in theatres. But how do you make that work with writing, with the literary arts? “You perform words in public,” he replied. “You do readings not to simply advertise yourself and your work, however valid that purpose may be. You have to show that creating is worthwhile, that it is delighting and satisfying.”
I remember once talking of poetry to a small group of eight to ten year old children. I was explaining rhyme and the ways different words can sound not the same but alike. I would give a simple word like “cat” and ask several of the youngsters, one by one, to give me a word that sounds like it, that rhymes with it. They grasped the concept easily enough and I was ready to go on to rhyming phrases and lines when one girl’s face lit up. Unasked she began to speak out many rhymes for different words, with an ecstatic look on her face as if she had discovered something magical. Deep within her the repetition of sounds had lit a spark of joyful creativity. I don’t know if she ever went on to write or use language in other ways. I felt like a master who had just gained an apprentice. The essence of the poet had been passed on.
And then at PoeMagic, his reading/performance series, Klyde Broox touched on the same thing. Talking about the reasoning behind PoeMagic, Klyde spoke of developing a community, a gathering in time and space where poets and spoken word artists could be together and share their creativity, where the more mature artists could fan that spark in those beginning to find a voice. Schools for artist, writing courses, and such only teach basics and methods. Creativity itself can not be taught. It must be developed and the best way to ensure such development in the younger writers is to provide chances for their works to be heard and seen. So it was his intention to form such a venue where all levels of writers of any creed, colour, social status, or whatever may seem to divide us were free to grab the spark and fire up their creativity.
And I agree. Poetry readings should not be simple showcases for one person’s work but reach to build awareness, an awareness that poets can be serious and fun, even seriously funny. I don’t remember ever setting up a reading series just for development of an artistic community but the concept is intriguing. I may be a little too old to take up such a task myself, but I will support to the fullest anyone who can and will.
So if you are just beginning to write, even if not seriously, don’t judge yourself by what publication credits you may achieve. Find a writer or group you admire and write toward their approval. Most are happy to pass on their outlooks and enthusiasm.