Friday, November 30, 2007

November Poems

It's the last day of November and I have written 30 poems in the last 30 days. Said Patrick, my son-in-law, on or about October 28th, to Rachel, my daughter, "Why don't we write a poem a day for the month of November?" "Let's," said she. And she called me, "Want to join us?" "Sure," said I. And I did. Rachel wrote about 15, I think, Patrick wrote 6 or 7, I think. Is this fair? Well, probably. Daily writing has been a nearly lifelong habit for me, they are just now trying it. And Patrick doesn't want to show anything less than acceptable. I, on the other hand, know that I don't have to hold myself to quite those standards. Like Clint Eastwood, I know about the good, the bad and the ugly --and a great deal in between.

Many books for writers suggest daily writing -- in some recommend almost automatic writing in a journal, just for the habit of mind. I haven't found that useful. But I do believe that daily creative work, writing in particular, but I believe it works for visual artists and, of course for musicians, is important to keep the perception clear, to exercise the muscles for paying attention, for making selection. We have to have critical standards for what we will offer the world -- they don't want the drek, even though vast quantities of drek are cluttering up what purports to be the world of the arts.

It's the habit of paying attention that I was especially aware of this month for I usually only write poems when something catches my attention very strongly. I spent every day with a little piece of my mind saying, is this hiding a poem? Sometimes it was the weather, somethings things I saw, heard, did, and sometimes it was a news item, like the found poem I posted a week or so ago. Paying attention is a habit worth cultivating. Just as it's easy not to do physical exercise, it is easy not to pay attention, easy to go about in a mini-fog of our trivial reveries ... and if you watch your reveries, you'll find most are almost embarrassingly trivial.

I am now inputting all the poems from the yellow pads they were on into a document. Here is a news item poem. A few others may follow, or I may decide they are too lose to the "ugly" category.

The "norm" of eight hours of sleep
is not normal some other places,
never has been for everyone everywhere --
a revelation! People in some societies
wake for a couple of hours at night,
get up and do chores, or talk, sing, even dance
then sleep again -- some just lie and think.
We fret, worry, take pills, drink alcohol,
feel abnormal, call ourselves insomniacs
and feel a nearer step toward maniac.
How freeing, how satisfying to know
our standards are not universal!
How good to understand our way of life
is not perfection. There is no perfection
for which we must strive.
Nature is far more various and wonderful
than we were taught. How wonderful
to know the pundits often do not know
what they tell us "everyone knows."

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