Creative aliveness

In poetry many things are going on at the same time and these layers of time and density of language make the poem uniquely poetic

Donald Hall

Unique – singular and personal. Poetic – to create, to make.

We’re all engaged in the business of creation, awake or asleep. Dr Lara Boyd assured her Ted X audience that the human brain never ceases to be creative. The brain learns something, and in simultaneous response is excited to learn more.

Layer builds upon layer. Many things are going on. Rich and fertile wonder lies in every living brain. It doesn’t need turning on, though it helps sometimes to turn external electronic voices off.

Time to meditate – but I procrastinate and it may be hours before the eventual sitting. Then, ‘small stones’ touched, I want to linger, and resist rising again. Why then do I hesitate so often? Why so much external noise? My most creative, loving aliveness is ever best renewed in contemplative, poetic, silence.

In silence each may discern the poetry of unique existence. Neck muscles click, click, click their way towards quiet observation and relaxation. Souls reach to mixed metaphor, listening for the touch of many-layered regeneration, up down, ground up. Herein lies the poetic. Here contemplative calm. In our world of joys and insoluble vicissitudes, the unique and the poetic offer necessary balm. Roots have their needed share of rain.

…. soon so many small stones, buried for a thousand years,
will feel themselves being touched.

Mary Oliver
from Lingering in Happiness in the volume Why I Wake Early
and in New and Selected Poems, Vol 2, page 95

Freedom space

I want to record gratitude today to UK MP’s debating air strikes in Syria. I have been deeply impressed by the quiet civility and respectful conduct of a 10 hour debate in which the only certainty is that there are no easy answers – whatever the outcome of the vote later.

I am chastened by thankfulness that I am not being asked to make a publicly documented decision, one way or another, that will have profound and far reaching consequences for millions.

Most ordinary citizens like me are not, and cannot be, sufficiently well informed to be able to imagine comprehensively what these consequences might be – even having observed horrors enough to create strong sense that “something must be done.”

Who do I want to make the difficult decisions though? What do I imagine can be done? Let me at least be profoundly grateful for those charged with grappling with such issues on my behalf  – decisions I don’t feel remotely qualified to take.

But let me not abnegate my personal responsibility towards peace in the world either. Ordinary hopes and longings for peace on earth are perfectly properly my – and our -shared business, contribution and responsibility.

Conversation is vital. Prose and poetry about our own hopes for peace must ultimately flow freely from the world’s biggest majority – that preponderance of “ordinary” lives, in human caring agencies, homes, leisure activities and workplaces in every nation on earth.

Author Kim Rosen writes of “freedom space”:

On a bombed-out street that was once a beautiful section of downtown Baghdad, a large tent was erected on August 28, 2006, in the midst of explosions and clashes. It was the first of many gatherings of poets in what came to be called the Freedom Space events. There, while Sunni and Shiite militias roamed the streets propagating terror, men and women from both factions gathered to speak poetry together. The Shiites sat opposite the Sunnis, as if it were a competition. But by the end of the event, they were embracing and dancing together because the poems from both sides voiced the same words, the same longings, the same wounds.

Kim Rosen
Saved by a Poem (see Miracle in Baghdad)

Wherever such “freedom spaces” flower the possibilities for hope in times of deep darkness survive even the absence of easy solutions. May there be times indeed when the world unites in “embracing and dancing together”.

A closing sentence today from the poet Donald Hall:

Poetry enacts our own losses so that we can share the notion that we all lose – and hold each other’s hand, as it were, in losing.