Originally posted: 3.25.09
Artist are funny creatures. We have a way of pushing people away who are important. And we often desire attention that sometimes isn’t warranted. We are daydreams, often floating in peoples memories, taking up space that may be needed for tax calculation or work plan development.
Often we place this sense of importance in what we create (and I admit to it). While I will say that it has its place in the universe, with the capacity to change minds and lives, (often our own first) we often want to claim titles and expect recognition for doing things that writers normally do. Things like… writing. Or performing a poem with word play.
Its amazing to me because it brings to question why writers write. I personally feel that a writer writes because there is a story. Everyday is a story. The 5 senses bring story’s into us and we as writers have to be the translators of the story from life to page. But when writers go as far as to say they are retiring from writing because the aren’t getting the respect they deserve, that really brings me back to that question of the reasoning behind your writing.
Something I have noticed is that its a lot of younger writers who grew up in the 90s that are carrying this pedestal mentality. While I respect carrying a certain level of confidence in your art, there is a very distinct difference between feeling under appreciated and feeling entitled to acclaim. Our poetic mentors and literary godparents didn’t write poetry for a crowds response. I imagine when Maya Angelou crafted “phenomenal woman” she wasn’t betting on a ten from the judges. And Langston Hughes didn’t pontificate on a dreams deference for the sake of a pen being thrown at his feet. Sure its cool to prove you are bad, but we’ll know you really are bad when your poetry has legs when read from the pad.
The test of time for poets unlike other forms of art (in my opinion) is its lasting appeal when read. Can anyone be reading this poem to themselves and feel something, anything stirring within them. While performance is important if you are a performance or spoken word artist, quality writing will always trump performance. Because performers physically die while words are immortal.
So I’ve talked a lot of shit… what do I suggest? Well first I’ll say I’m not immune to anything I’ve said. I feel that if one is to be a leader they must be willing to do what they want to see done. I personally would would like to see people share more of themselves with their art, so I will perform more of the personal pieces that I’ve been shy about sharing. I also would like to see people break out of their comfort zone and attempt to write in different forms. I’ve learned over time, that for some, writing in forms forces them to think differently. Like a literary “Rubics Cube” some forms with force an artist to experiment with syllabic breakdowns, meter and reader voice fluctuation. So I suggest playing with different forms to those who may be feeling they are ready to retire. Show folks what you can really do before you hang up you ink laden cloak.
I will be posting a different poem written in a different poem every month. I’m challenging myself to go for every other week… but I’m not promising anything.
If you are a writer and have any opinion on this, please comment, keep the dialogue going, or better yet, take up a personal challenge that we can hold each other to. Lets write for the passion, not for the flashin.
Peace and safety to all,