On shimmering words

Today as I was driving to and from my weekly (although late by a day this week) Cafe Poet session at The Front I listened to this repeat of On Being’s interview with US poet Elizabeth Alexander. The thing that stayed with me from this podcast, as I wrote today, was the title “words that shimmer” and the need to be precisely honest in your writing. Deviate one iota from this and your work falls apart.

The session today was actually quite unproductive and a bit disheartening, as I struggled with the perennial problem of honesty and originality. I believe if your work is honest, then it will be original: originality is your very personal stamp on the age-old work of others. That is some intellectual comfort, but also the source of pain on those days, like today, when you just cannot crack the concrete.

I was also comforted on this point in reading CJ’s new poem, called The Squat II, which he performed at the poetry slam on Friday. You can read all of the poem on CJ’s blog, but I’ll quote a stanza here:

my ribs are the ceiling beams bowed outwards
by the dust-star filled still pressure trapped within
the air is full of echos of the incense scent of organ moans
and the choruses of innocents
(you know, alone, I sing like ice cracking
but a river of voices makes a hymn ring
like rapids and gentle rain 

I liked feeling part of a stream)

On the first hearing/reading of this, it was honesty distilled. The images are strong and captivating and it is – although it now feels to me like the lowliest of all adjectives to use – original. Thank you for sharing this CJ.

On a more optimistic note, I managed to finish off my submission in time for Vignette Press’s forthcoming Geek Mook (on interactive fiction!) and submitted my performer application for the 2012 National Folk Festival, again – just in time.