Sunday, June 6, 2010

How the poet needs to observe

The origins of this post are in another of my blogs, Words by Ross:

I have not posted in here for some time now. In part this is because my own poetry writing has lagged somewhat of late with other things going on, not least of which being a return to having a 'real' job.

One of the advantages of my new job at the Belconnen Arts Centre is being able to see and interact with artists of different types. The Centre's Director actually introduced me to one painter who is also a volunteer at the Centre, as having an arts practice of my own as a writer. I have to admit to being somewhat embarrassed by that description as I do not consider myself an 'artist' as such. I am nowhere near being at that level.

The Centre currently has an exhibition entitled Earth Connections, as a celebration of Earth Day. One of the exhibits is a an electronic piece, a looping slide-show of images of a river. I was able to speak to the artist, Karen Williams yesterday. She explained that the images all came from one small stretch of the Molonglo River. As we talked, I began seeing things in what she was showing me. While still images, they were all of movement, either water in movement or reeds flattened by flood waters. Images of things started to appear to me as they had appeared to the artist. This wavering line of froth and bubbles looks somewhat like the head and neck of a swan. That particular bubble in the midst of a ripple is an eye peeking out at you.

As we spoke, I was struck by the fact that as a kid I used to look at things and see images within them, such as faces in whorls on a piece of polished wood. As an older adult, I seemed to have lost that form of observation. It was a salutary reminder that as a writer, I need to look not just at the immediate surface but what is within that surface or below it and what occupies negative space around an object. That form of looking at things then informs, influences and inspires.

As an aspiring poet, I am reminded that to create poetry, I need to look deeply, to see things that may lie beneath the surface. I like to think that I did that to a degree with my poem, Earth Beat. I now want to go out with my camera and journal, photographing, writing, observing and thinking, all to see what is beneath the surface of things around me, using this to inspire more verse.

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