ruminating on “call me bourgeois” by alice n. persons

 

Are you a tormented genius? Do you suffer for your art?

Here’s what Maine poet Alice N. Persons has to say about that.

 

Ed Harris as Jackson Pollock (2000)

 

CALL ME BOURGEOIS
by Alice N. Persons

After watching “Pollock”, with Ed Harris
as the tormented genius,
I couldn’t sleep,
thinking about suffering and art.
Should I feel a little shallow
because I’m not a drunk or a slave
to drugs, I pay my bills, like to cook,
and no believer in my genius supports me?
When I have a bad day,
instead of waking up fiercely hung over
and filthy on a Manhattan street,
at the end of this trying day
I do the dull, comforting routines —
let the dogs out, fill the cat food bowl,
floss, check email, and usually (not always)
behave like a grownup
who happens to be a poet.
I don’t like to wear black all the time.
Cigarettes stink.
Bad poets performing their work embarrass me.
I’m all for people expressing themselves,
but I also want them to shower,
and they had better not turn over any
Thanksgiving dinner tables in my vicinity.
Pain makes art
but so do pleasure and normalcy.
Sometimes the quietest person in the band
produces the purest and most lovely sound.

~ from Never Say Never (Moon Pie Press, 2004)

 

Ed Harris in “Pollock” (2000)

 

*

Call me amused, and you can certainly call me bourgeois. I’m with Alice on this one. 🙂

I admit when I was younger, the starving, suffering artist trope appealed to me. After I read the Beat Poets, I wanted to go On the Road with Jack Kerouac. The thought of hanging out in dark cafés with beatniks wearing black berets snapping their fingers sounded real cool, daddy-o.

The only thing that mattered was the art, man. Living, breathing, and making it. Who needed food when you could live off creative vapors?

 

American author Jack Kerouac (1922 – 1969) gestures expansively as he reads poetry at the Artist’s Studio, NYC, 1959 (Photo by Fred W. McDarrah/Getty Images)

 

We grow up hearing about artistic geniuses whose lives were full of high drama. They’re often depressed, anxious, schizophrenic, suicidal, or delusional, many of them addicted to alcohol or other drugs. And we wonder — if their lives had been more “normal,” ho-hum, pedestrian — would they have been able to create the works they did?

Abstract expressionist painter Jackson Pollock, for one, was an alcoholic who was diagnosed as clinically neurotic (speculation he may have been bipolar). Prone to drinking binges and drunken stupors, he was largely reclusive and had a volatile personality. His wife Lee Krasner (also an artist) had a huge influence on his work and career. Pollock benefited from Krasner’s extensive knowledge of and training in modern art, and she also introduced him to many critics, collectors, and other artists. Most important, she believed in him, and he implicitly trusted her judgment and opinions.

 

Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner

 

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[review + giveaway] Illusions: Poetry & Art for the Young At Heart by Charles Ghigna and Chip Ghigna

“Everything you can imagine is real.” ~ Pablo Picasso

 

Not too long ago, I featured a few word-gems from Charles Ghigna’s, Dear Poet: Notes to a Young Writer (Resource Publications, 2019). When I paired Charles’s words with his son Chip’s art, I didn’t realize that just a short time later they would publish a book together!

In Illusions: Poetry & Art for the Young at Heart (Resource Publications, 2020), these two incredibly talented creatives explore their fascination with dreams and illusions, as they delve into the mysteries of creativity and champion the innate ability of each individual to shape his own reality.

Geared towards tweens and teens (and as the title suggests, anyone who’s young at heart), the 22 poems and images encourage readers to think outside the box, celebrate the fine art of play, and be bold in envisioning all the possibilities.

If there is any “secret” to creativity and courting the muse, perhaps it’s all about accessing one’s inner child, for therein lies openness, intuition, spontaneity, and a direct line to the imagination.

 

Cover Art: “Tree of Hope” by Chip Ghigna

 

These are poems where daydreaming is actively encouraged, and communing with nature is a holistic, spiritual experience, rich with “Inspiration”:

It is the sound
of the wind
and the silence of the night.

It is the sun
and the moon
and the memory.

In the lyrically beautiful poem, “One,” we are reminded of the interconnectedness of all living things, that time is a continuum, and that there is wisdom to be gleaned by choosing to remain aware, alert, and engaged. Glory and wonder are ours for the taking.

There is clever wordplay, too, like in the whimsical poem, “Art”:

Art is undefinable,
A mystery of creation
Inspired by a pigment
Of your imagination.

Makes me smile every time. 🙂

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good advice for creative types from Marge Piercy

“You must write every single day of your life… You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads… may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.” ~ Ray Bradbury

“Young Woman Writing” by Pierre Bonnard (1908)

I have always believed writing chooses you, rather than the other way around.

You are either compelled to write, or not.

No sane person would willingly choose the loneliness, rejection, crippling self doubt and relative poverty that are part and parcel of the writing life. The rewards must come from the creative act itself, from having made sense out of chaos if even for a fleeting moment.

Given that you absolutely cannot help yourself — that you must write to feel alive  — you simply go about setting down one word after another after another every single day, while battling your inner demons and that pesky inner editor.

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friday feast: think big by liz garton scanlon and vanessa brantley newton (+ a giveaway!)

Hello, Poetry-Loving Friends!

Had to tell you about my BIG, BIG love for this brand new picture book by Liz Garton Scanlon and Vanessa Brantley Newton. Have you seen it yet?

THINK BIG (Bloomsbury, 2012) is a rollicking, joyous celebration of creativity and imagination that embraces art in all its glorious, soul nourishing forms. And who better to bring this message to young readers than the infinitely talented Liz and Vanessa, who, much like the children featured in the story, grew up thinking outside the box.

Fairy Princess Liz

Their early experiences with creative play enabled them to become the accomplished artists they are today. Their secret? Never losing touch with the child within — the one that’s eager, excited and unafraid to dive right in and experiment, with a mind open and fresh, dwelling in that magical place where all things are possible.

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thought for the week

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket Even the greatest talent, lacking the craft to develop it, is no more than an itch in the mind; and the higher the potential, of course, the greater the effort needed to bring it to peak achievement.

To sustain the effort, however, means cultivating the capacity to endure loneliness — not that loneliness itself is peculiar to the creative mind. Far from that, the mere fact of being human implies an essential loneliness in each of us — microcosmic as we all are; for universe may communicate with universe, but by their very nature they cannot mingle.

To say, then, that the writer’s lot is a lonely one is not to complain of this, but simply to make the point that to be creative is to be different from those who are not; and so, to that extent also, to be cut off from those others. Yet, ironically, it is out of this even deeper loneliness that the writer hopes to be able to communicate to an extent denied the non-creative ones; and the irony is accentuated by his awareness that he will never really be able to tell how far he has succeeded in this.”

                                                                                                    
(From TALENT IS NOT ENOUGH, by Mollie Hunter)