Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Learning Curve

In short, it goes on forever. I know a writer who told a group I lead that several years ago he wrote the best poem he'll ever write. I have to agree with him because he's an awful writer, has not evolved in the last ten years, doesn't get it at all.

Fortunately, I know lots of writers who know they're on a trek that, pursued over time, will yield better poems right up to the end. In the words of Robert Earl Kean, "The road goes on forever and the party never ends." Given that you'll write very few good lines, let alone entire poems, the learning curve has every opportunity to go on and on and on. The art is inexhaustible. This derives in part from the nature of art as expressing the inexpressible (so why do we try?) and the nature of man, who can never get all the answers. Our efforts as poets lie in the belief that we can always learn more and can always say it better. We also know we will never know enough and never say it right.

So why do we try?

*There is joy in expression
*There is a delight in refusing doom
*There is a profound and humbling richeness in looking into the abyss
*We are dissatisfied with our own mortality

At bottom, poetry (and all art) attempts to address, if not cure, a disconnectedness that is pandemic to our natures. There is an incurable element of religion to it. My sister, a violinist, says "Music is my religion." The aims of art and religion are similar and she, at age sixty-seven, enters each concert as a child and learns wonderful things every time. So too with the poet.

The learning curve goes on forever and the party never ends.

Next post: Do the work-- we've seen enough of the spirit side.
So long for now.

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