On Poetry II

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(c) Butterfly Series by Victoria Horkan

There is something peculiar about poetry. Here’s a thought I had today: I can schedule a painting session for the weekend (or all of my weekends for that matter) and I can plan my singing exercises (for warming up my voice) during the week (preferably on Mondays). But I would find it rather difficult to say that on Wednesday evenings I will be writing poetry. As if I can have an appointment at 8:30 pm sharp with a muse who will tell me exactly what to write and how to write it; as if I can plan to feel and exude my emotions as mechanically as I wake up, have breakfast and go to work.

That’s because if painting and singing could be treated as work, for which I need to show up, poetry is that which sneaks up on me from the darkest or tenderest rooms where I left the back door ajar. Sometimes it’s recognizable, other times well-camouflaged; nonetheless, it’s an itch that begs to be alleviated, a fervor to be expressed, manifested and sent out into the vibrating world. It cannot dwell in you for long because you would congest and eventually decompose. If you’re gleeful or grieving, poetry can help you express both.

There’s a reason why maybe the greatest poetry will not be scribbled as you sit at your writing table, but sufficiently close to it – standing near the window to smell the lilacs in the spring or saying farewell to someone you irremediably lost. These are the moments of nascent poems, when something within and without compels you to give birth to it.

On that (poetic) note, here are other revealing quotes on poetry that will hopefully awaken the dormant poet in you. You may read the first part here. Enjoy!

  1. The genesis of a poem for me is usually a cluster of words. The only good metaphor I can think of is a scientific one: dipping a thread into a supersaturated solution to induce crystal formation. Margaret Atwood

  2. Yet, it is true, poetry is delicious; the best prose is that which is most full of poetry. Virginia Woolf

  3. It is poetry that will save the world, not commerce. Art Professor Luther from the Glory Daze movie

  4. Poetry is the only life got, the only work done, the only pure product and free labor of man, performed only when he has put all the world under his feet, and conquered the last of his foes. Henry David Thoreau

  5. Great poetry is always written by somebody straining to go beyond what he can do. Stephen Spender

  6. Poetry is plucking at the heartstrings, and making music with them. Dennis Gabor

  7. Poetry is a deal of joy and pain and wonder, with a dash of the dictionary. Kahlil Gibran

  8. Poetry can be dangerous, especially beautiful poetry, because it gives the illusion of having had the experience without actually going through it. Rumi

  9. Poetry is an act of peace. Pablo Neruda

  10. Poetry, I feel, is a tyrannical discipline. You’ve got to go so far so fast in such a small space; you’ve got to burn away all the peripherals. Sylvia Plath

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    (c) George McKim Poetry – Poem Painting
  11. At the touch of love everyone becomes a poet. Plato

  12. Poetry is ordinary language raised to the Nth power. Poetry is boned with ideas, nerved and blooded with emotions, all held together by the delicate, tough skin of words. Paul Engle

  13. There is poetry as soon as we realize we possess nothing. John Cage

  14. If you want to annoy a poet, explain his poetry. Nassim Nicholas Taleb

  15. Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquillity. William Wordsworth

  16. Poetry is not a turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion; it is not the expression of personality, but an escape from personality. But, of course, only those who have personality and emotions know what it means to want to escape from these things. T. S. Eliot

  17. Most people ignore most poetry because most poetry ignores most people. Adrian Mitchell

  18. Poetry is what in a poem makes you laugh, cry, prickle, be silent, makes your toe nails twinkle, makes you want to do this or that or nothing, makes you know that you are alone in the unknown world, that your bliss and suffering is forever shared and forever all your own. Dylan Thomas

  19. Poetry is frosted fire. J. Patrick Lewis

  20. I have never started a poem yet whose end I knew. Writing a poem is discovering. Robert Frost

  21. Poems come out of wonder, not out of knowing. Lucille Clifton

  22. I am an excitable person who only understands life lyrically, musically, in whom feelings are much stronger as reason. I am so thirsty for the marvelous that only the marvelous has power over me. Anything I can not transform into something marvelous, I let go. Reality doesn’t impress me. I only believe in intoxication, in ecstasy, and when ordinary life shackles me, I escape, one way or another. No more walls. Anaïs Nin

  23. I know you are reading this poem/in a room where too much has happened for you to bear. Adrienne Rich from An Atlas of the Difficult World

  24. There is a pleasure in poetic pains which only poets know. William Cowper

  25. Well, write poetry for God’s sake, it’s the only thing that matters. e. e. cummings

  26. Poetry is, at bottom, a criticism of life. Matthew Arnold

  27. A poet’s work is to name the unnameable, to point at frauds, to take sides, start arguments, shape the world, and stop it going to sleep. Salman Rushdie

  28. The blood jet is poetry and there is no stopping it. Sylvia Plath

There is no stopping it…

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Ode to All Lost Things

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(c) The Lost Thing – Illustration by Shaun Tan (from the picture book with the same title written by Shaun Tan)

Where do all lost things go?
Is there a special Universe for them?

An elegant corner
A lost and found box
Hidden from our sight
The keys you misplaced this morning
While in a hurry on your way to work
That notebook with all your best sketches
All the breadcrumbs you never ate
The nights you were out and drinking
Befriending the dawn
The breakfast you skipped so you could
Sleep for ten more minutes
A loss of appetite after a fight
The millions of cells that die in us every other minute
The hair loss we have to deal with on a daily basis
The missing bus that reminds you how poor you are
That train you were about to take from platform 5
Never coming back…

To that earring you loved so much
Now lying in solitude on the floor somewhere
To the broken jar
The smashed vase
To the pieces that cannot be reassembled
To the teacup that shattered
Turned to bits
All forgotten and devoured
In the kitchen of lost things
An entire cupboard of loss
Accompanied by spilt salt and milk
Losing your train of thought in the middle of a speech
To lost empires and fortunes
Lost a prize, the gold medal
Losing a bet with your friend
To all those times you lost your temper
And never apologized for it

To lose your chance at saying goodbye to your dying cat – that is cruel and undeserved
To all the lost grandmas and grandpas
And all the love letters
Sent and misplaced
Forgotten, suspended in time
To all the choices we’ve never made
To all the lost babies
Who have grown up and are no longer babies
To all the miscarriages
To the loss that forever aches
Night and day, day and night
A loss so grave no one can deny

There’s no loss like human loss

Losing your best friend to the world
In your darkest hour
Losing all your senses
Losing your virginity
To the one you love
Losing portions of you
Standing unrecognizable in the mirror
The flesh is still yours, but everything else isn’t
The loss of what you cherish the most
Where does it all go?
The hug that brought together multiverses
The gaze of love
The loss of a chance at forgiveness
Losing all meaning
Losing faith
Losing your childhood dream
Your dearest memory
Losing sight of that which matters
Losing the now in the tumult of life
Losing your life over a death sentence

Where do all lost things go?
Is there a special Universe for them?

We search and search
Because no speck of hope is ever lost.

Melting Snow

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(c) freedom writer

Painting inspired by Leonid Afremov’s Beginning of Spring. You can see the original painting here.

Oil painting. Also, I painted this one with a teaspoon. First time I ever painted with a teaspoon was because I had no palette knives (still don’t) and felt the need to improvise. I was pleasantly surprised by the result.

Proust Questionnaire

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What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Artistic expression.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Being alive.

What is your greatest fear?
Failure (and cockroaches). One stronger than the other.

What historical figure do you most identify with?
Emma Goldman.

Which living person do you most admire?
The artist.

Who are your heroes in real life?
The outcasts.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
Long live the mask.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Politicians. The worst kind (of politicians).

What is your favorite journey?
The road to awe.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Being outgoing.

Which word or phrases do you most overuse?
Maybe.

What is your greatest regret?
I stopped.

What is your current state of mind?
Into creating mode (and more).

If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be?
Place of birth.

What is your most treasured possession?
Language. And a book.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Staying in that low depth of misery.

Where would you like to live?
In space.

What is your favorite occupation?
Breaking into song in the middle of the day.

What are the qualities you most like in a man?
Cleverness and kindness.

What are the qualities you most like in a woman?
Cleverness and kindness.

How would you like to die?
Enthralled by the joy of having lived.

What is your motto?
Question(naire) everything.

The Proust Questionnaire has its origins in a parlor game popularized (though not devised) by Marcel Proust, the French essayist and novelist, who believed that, in answering these questions, an individual reveals his or her true nature. Vanity Fair 

Be Our Guest

Be Our Guest
(c) freedom writer

Painting inspired by Leonid Afremov’s “Dinner” and the “Beauty and the Beast”.

Be Our Guest is one of my all time favorite musical pieces so this is an homage to Lumière, as well as to the other wonderful characters that enchanted me with their magic as a kid.

Painted with acrylics.

Delft Blues

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(c) freedom writer

Painted with acrylics (very unprofessional tools).

I tried my best to actually get the Delft blue (it’s a very specific color). Read more about Delft Blue here.

I’ve also written a poem entitled “Delft Blue(s)” which you can read here.