How to write good poems, make good art, etc..

How to write good poems, make good art, etc..

Postby Individual » Tue Nov 16, 2010 11:20 pm

I noticed over the years that it's best to let poems write themselves, to let art make itself. In other words, it is not possible for anyone to make good art. How could it be possible? Logically, you could sit down and just mix and match things randomly (this is how some scientists think creativity works), but most of the time you would get it wrong. It would be lame or simply be gibberish. The "teachers" of art and creative writing also have never been helpful for me. English teachers tell us to do outlines, which just mess things up. Art teachers tell us to use certain techniques or frameworks which just skew perception.

Instead, I say you have to "let poetry come to you," or "let art come to you." Just wait for the inspiration. It will come! Just don't forget it once it's there! And also, don't feel bad when what you express physically is not quite the same thing as what you experienced mentally. In my mind is amazing artwork, but my hand-eye coordination is terrible, so I am no painter. :D

In ancient times (in Greece and India), they understood it this way: that it is spirits who are responsible for art and human brains are merely the paintbrushes of the gods. :)
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Re: How to write good poems, make good art, etc..

Postby Lazy_eye » Wed Nov 17, 2010 6:35 am

Hiya, Individual,

There's a pretty good book that came out about thirty years ago -- you can probably find it in some used bookstore, or on sale somewhere on the web -- called "50 Contemporary Poets: The Creative Process". It was put together by someone named Alberta Turner. Anyway, the cool thing about it is that she got 50 poets to choose a poem they had written and talk about how it originated and developed. The answers were pretty different of course, but there were some common themes. Most of them said that you can't really force a poem to come into being -- you just have to work with the material and let it develop as it will. Somewhat along the lines you described in your post.

Anyway, you might find it an interesting read.

I also like Kenneth Koch's "Wishes, Lies and Dreams" and "Rose Where Did you Get That Red?" These were books that grew out of the work he did with children and they're pretty damn wonderful.

From where I'm sitting, I see two areas where a lot of aspiring writers tend to go wrong. One is that they're focused too much on the message, on what they think they're trying to say, or on their self-narrative, and they forget that poetry isn't really about delivering messages any more than music or painting is. It's more about letting words collide with each other and seeing what sparks fly. It's about learning to work with a medium, which happens to be language.

The other is that they don't read poetry. Everyone wants to write, write, write but nobody bothers to read. We all like to think we're original, but 90% of our ideas have already been tried countless times before, and if we set forth without familiarizing ourselves with what's out there, we just end up sounding banal. By reading a lot you can get a better sense of what can be done with the medium, what works and doesn't, what people are doing and what you could do that is new/different/interesting.

[/late night rant]
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Re: How to write good poems, make good art, etc..

Postby Individual » Wed Nov 17, 2010 1:25 pm

Lazy_eye wrote:The other is that they don't read poetry. Everyone wants to write, write, write but nobody bothers to read. We all like to think we're original, but 90% of our ideas have already been tried countless times before, and if we set forth without familiarizing ourselves with what's out there, we just end up sounding banal. By reading a lot you can get a better sense of what can be done with the medium, what works and doesn't, what people are doing and what you could do that is new/different/interesting.

I think it's more like absorbing the spirit. :)
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Re: How to write good poems, make good art, etc..

Postby Ogyen » Wed Nov 17, 2010 6:38 pm

an entry on this practice of mine.

How I Grow a Poem as a daily art and meditative practice

Preview:
poetry lines emerge in me all the time, but sometimes I’ll feel one good line and I'll choose to not spontaneously poet away and i do not immediately write the one line down. Patience, if they're roses they'll bloom.

Instead, I lid them with silence and set it on the backburner where covered and quiet the one line simmers in the hot oils of my thoughts meeting the grind of my thinking analyses as thoughts bubble up from all my surrounding conditions, with the dishes, the laundry, the diapers, the husband and the child deciding on grilled cheese or chocolate pudding, the colleagues frantic with this conflict, that system needs a patch to fix this broken spot, the grinding strain the one line meets is what separates a truth from a cluster of ignorance that sounds pleasing.


Oh, and on reading... I feed my brain with great poetry. My influences are visible if you have read my muses' works. Osmosis can happen sitting so close to naked truths. And I love naked wisdom... I don't necessarily absorb the medium's form, as they may be in different languages, or formats than anything I've ever produced. Like Byron, I don't write LIKE him. But he's a strong influence. Or Blake. Rumi. Gibran. I don't have the same aesthetic, but I would agree, it's like trying to absorb the spirit. I'm absorbing the everything about that truth that the writing evokes in my recognition and awareness... and I'm always pushing a bit further... so yes, reading to absorb spirit, not to parrot or explicate, but truly reformulate in my own words and experiences.

EDIT: I feel I need to add: language is a skill, the way walking is. It's not an innate trait, it's something that's learned and is developed by ALL toddlers alike, so of course the more you read, the more you exercise and articulate the variety of semantics, syntax, variations of cosmetic, expression, as well as seeing live examples of how language can be used. The more you read, the more you can come back to your experiences by formulating your own language articulation of the truths you've felt directly. That is why knowledge is power, because words have meanings. And matching our experiences to our meanings is the whole point of being present in this very moment, removing what is obstructing our view of this very tender, tenuous, fleeting moment that is going and gone. Ultimately, I feel this is what all poetry is about.

Not sure that made much sense... :broke:

My OmBoy Gibran says -
Poetry is a deal of joy and pain and wonder, with a dash of the dictionary.


I couldn't agree more.

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Re: How to write good poems, make good art, etc..

Postby Lazy_eye » Wed Nov 17, 2010 8:50 pm

Ogyen wrote:poetry lines emerge in me all the time, but sometimes I’ll feel one good line and I'll choose to not spontaneously poet away and i do not immediately write the one line down. Patience, if they're roses they'll bloom.

Instead, I lid them with silence and set it on the backburner where covered and quiet the one line simmers in the hot oils of my thoughts meeting the grind of my thinking analyses as thoughts bubble up from all my surrounding conditions, with the dishes, the laundry, the diapers, the husband and the child deciding on grilled cheese or chocolate pudding, the colleagues frantic with this conflict, that system needs a patch to fix this broken spot, the grinding strain the one line meets is what separates a truth from a cluster of ignorance that sounds pleasing.


Love this excerpt. Not only tells something about your process but is itself an example of lively, engaged writing.

Oh, and on reading... I feed my brain with great poetry. My influences are visible if you have read my muses' works. Osmosis can happen sitting so close to naked truths. And I love naked wisdom... I don't necessarily absorb the medium's form, as they may be in different languages, or formats than anything I've ever produced. Like Byron, I don't write LIKE him. But he's a strong influence. Or Blake. Rumi. Gibran. I don't have the same aesthetic, but I would agree, it's like trying to absorb the spirit. I'm absorbing the everything about that truth that the writing evokes in my recognition and awareness... and I'm always pushing a bit further... so yes, reading to absorb spirit, not to parrot or explicate, but truly reformulate in my own words and experiences.


yeah, I think not to read is to miss out on one of the really great pleasures: that of receptivity to another writer's mind/imagination/process. Somebody, forget who, said to read another's work deeply is to write it yourself, and to let it write you. (my paraphrase).
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Re: How to write good poems, make good art, etc..

Postby Ogyen » Wed Nov 17, 2010 10:27 pm

Lazy_eye wrote:Somebody, forget who, said to read another's work deeply is to write it yourself, and to let it write you. (my paraphrase).


Absolutely brilliant. And true.

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"To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never, to forget." –Arundhati Roy
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