Saturday, January 29, 2011
I was thinking some of my random rambling thoughts when my brain asked why schools offer a MFA (Master of Fine Arts) in writing. Writing isn’t artistic, unless it’s calligraphy or something. Of course I was staring at page of my chicken scratch scrap handwriting at the time. Fortunately that idea didn’t survive very long. Because, in so many ways, yes: writing is art.
The first flaw in my brain fart was that art has to be something pretty. Not all art is pretty. Some art is sad, scary, shocking, confusing and decidedly not pretty. The only words that can define art for me are creative and expression. Art is creative expression. Writing is creative expression. So writing is art. Ding!
Now the interesting thing is, writing is art in so many ways. Yes there’s the creative expression that is inherent in writing – because you are taking your thoughts and turning them into words on paper, like a musician turning emotions into music, usually so that someone else can understand you. Writers extract knowledge from their minds in that painful non-surgical procedure of getting it down on paper. Writers build worlds on white backgrounds. The very basis of writing is creative expression – art. But there are other ways writing is art too.
The very building blocks of the words themselves can be a form of visual art. Calligraphy is dedicated to making words look “pretty” but there are so many other forms of written art as well. Look at the writing of any other language that does not use the same Latin/Roman letters we’re accustomed to in English. Writing like Arabic and Kanji, Nepalese scripts look like art to me because they are unfamiliar, intriguing, enigmatic and yes, pretty. But does the fact I am accustomed to seeing written English, make it any less artistic a script? I’ve been desensitized to the most amazing thing about the written word. Writing is visual art that speaks.
One of the many ways it speaks is in autobiography. Handwriting can tell us a lot about a writer. Just the way we put pen to paper is autobiographical. When you look at a page full of flowing words, no scratches, you see the writer’s confidence and preparation. When you see neat cursive or machine-like uniformity in a person’s print it would not be farfetched to think that the person is meticulous. When you see the scribbles, scrawls and scratches of a mind at war with itself, uncertain, you feel the writer’s torment. Handwriting is such a reliable form of self expression that there are analysts who make a living doing profiles of people based on their handwriting.
…but there’s more! Thanks to word processing and the uniformity of fonts, the written word can also make shapes. Shape poetry is designed to form an overall picture or shape from the words and their placement. It’s like a fourth dimension to the two dimensional art of writing. Height, width and depth and flavor. Writing is four dimensional art on a piece of paper… And this is why I love it.
Truly, there’s a lot to be gleaned from a page of chicken scratch scrap writing by an over talkative brain.
(Image by Kelene Blake)
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
My vacation is coming to an end, and in honor of that I'm posting a poem I wrote just before the beginning of this vacation. It is a Sestina, a verse form requiring repetition of end words in a particular order. It's not the easiest verse form but it gives interesting results.
by Kelene Blake
Early morning at sea
I watch the waves
Reveal the shore as the tide goes out.
The beach, deserted at this early time,
Lets me soak the dew in
As daylight rises.
I can feel my chest rise
As serenity blows over the sea
And I breathe it in.
I release a wave
Of my stress, built up over time
With every breath I let out.
It feels so good to be out,
Away from the high rise
Buildings and crazy time
Tables, all those people to see,
Pressure hitting me in waves
Of deadlines to get all my work in.
But everything’s finally in
And I can finally get out,
Lie on the sand and let the waves
Wash me clean, make my spirits rise
Clear across the sea
Away from the clutches of time.
And this time
When the tide comes in
I’ll sit on the sea
And let my dreams float out
On every wave.
And I will wave
Goodbye to time
And land as I rise
To the horizon, breathing in,
With my dreams to the sea.
Late evening time at the sea.
Waves rise and fall as the tide comes in
While my dreams and I go sailing out.
(Photo by Kelene Blake)
Sunday, January 2, 2011
We can be happy this year by saying “Fuck it! I’m happy.”
I know. Not my usual sunshine and flowers. But since life decidedly isn’t just sunshine and flowers, why not? People wonder why I am so positive. Some people think I’m too happy. I recently got “So how come you can still smile?” after telling a friend about some recent developments in my life. I shrugged in response at the time, but I’ll attempt to answer the question now.
My life has many facets: I am pursuing my dreams, exploring my creativity and totally living. Life sucks balls often enough, but while the crap is happening I’m still doing me. And it’s not that I’m ignoring the difficult parts of life, the anger and tears. I give them their time too and believe me I experience them just as fully. I simply don’t see the need to dwell on them every minute of every day. When I feel the less pleasant feelings, I feel them. When I don’t feel them, I let them go. And fortunately I manage to get through a fair portion of my day not feeling the negative.
At this moment I’m happy. At this moment I’m sad. I’m not going to let the first moment tarnish the sanctity of the second or vice versa. There’s no need to temper my sadness by trying to convince myself I’m happy. There’s no need to temper my happiness by convincing myself that things aren’t great. I know things aren’t great, but you know what? Fuck that! I’m still going to allow myself to be happy! My sadness and anger had their fair allotment of time today. It’s joy’s turn to visit.
So welcome 2011! I hope you enjoy your little trek through my life. I hope to be here a lot longer than you are, so enjoy me while you can. Bring on the moments!
(Photo by Kelene Blake: Pensive, 1946 by Elizabeth Catlett, United States/Mexico, James E. Lewis Museum of Art, Morgan State University)