Friday, April 17, 2009

Poem in Bad Light -- Writer's Poke #225

I like poetry, although I think about 99% of it is probably crap.

To me, poetry must marry the beauty of language with the power of story. Poetry that simply hides meaning behind complexities... who needs it?

People love language, of this I am convinced. So why don't more people read poetry? Simple: most poetry is written by poets for other poets. In other words, most poets have purposely limited their audience. Those poets that wrote for a general audience, Robert Frost and Maya Angelou come to mind, are not considered to be among the "elite poets," at least by poetry snobs.

Real poems evoke real emotions. Take Theordore Roethke's "My Papa's Waltz" or Dylan Thomas' "Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night" or Sylvia Plath's "Daddy." If you've taken an English class or two in high school or college, I'm sure you've read these poems; but even if you have, why not go back and read them again?

Do you ever write in a way that excludes others? How might you develop a more inclusive style?

"Poetry is a way of taking life by the throat." -- Robert Frost

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Dog in Training -- Writer's Poke #224

Some people in my neighborhood have one of those invisible fences for their dog; I'd probably never have noticed the "fence" if it weren't for the accompanying "Dog in Training" sign.

Dog in training, I thought. What an interesting concept. It reminded me of the old fashioned finishing schools for young debutantes.

Do puppies really need to learn how to become dogs? Doesn't the process happen naturally? And then I thought: What does it mean to be a certified dog? Drawing connections from the sign, it would indicate that a dog learns its territory. It learns to accept a fence that it cannot see. It conforms to what its master wants it to be: well-mannered and restrained.

In other words, it learns to become something other than its nature.

How has the influence of family, friends, or society "trained" you? Do you have any idea who you might be without outside influence? In other words, has your "essence" been altered?

"We are strange beings, we seem to go free, but we go in chains -- chains of training, custom, convention, association, environment -- in a word, Circumstance -- and against these bonds the strongest of us struggle in vain." -- Mark Twain

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Why Settle? -- Writer's Poke #223

Compromise isn't a dirty word. And as I've noted in a previous poke, sometimes "good" is good enough.

So perhaps it's a sign of maturity to accept a life that doesn't meet all of your dreams? Perhaps settling is a sign that you've accepted the reality of life's "wake up call."

And perhaps settling is one of those psychological stages of life. It's been a while since I've studied psychology in any regimented way, but I do recall a stage called "acceptance," and maybe acceptance is a synonym for settle?

Acceptance also indicates an acknowledgment that we're powerless to change our circumstance. It's the last stage before death, for example -- and not just physical, but also mental and spiritual.

But damn it all to hell, I'm not dead yet.

How can you avoid settling for less than what you need?

"Once we accept our limitations, we go beyond them." -- Brendan Francis