A consistent source of inspiration is exasperation. Politics, family dynamics, the continuous struggle between technology’s advance and the soul’s need to retreat, or maybe it’s something more mundane like having two left feet on a dance floor, or finding the last place your left your mind. The sale of almost everything revolves around the hope of at least temporary satisfaction to such incidental problems. The drive to control, contain, or counterbalance the influence of the tides of circumstance swings on a pendulum between consumerism and the universal catechisms of our age. Intellect, reasoning, counter intuitive campaigns of abstract stillness, most of the world addresses this issue without the compliment of poetry. The machines and mechanizations that ghost our lives only reward creativity that is productive. The best seller list is the only list in town. If it’s not a hit on the radio, if it’s not garnering clicks on a screen, it might as well remain a silent scream in the space orbiting our ears.
The stakes are serious and the most obvious service we can offer as poets may be something as old fashioned as a common ground. Finding a few folks to be in common with, whether we call it an audience, a community, or a circle of influence helps to tune the jingle bells on our jester’s hat. We write for the them disguised as us. Drop a line to a friend that fishes, composes a rhyme for a birthday, become a personable poet. The infinitesimal connections we make are infinitely valuable. What we put on paper doesn’t have to be gushy to be a love letter. Something snarky, or something sweet, can be folded like a classroom note and passed between desks behind an imaginary teacher’s back to make someone’s day.
Recently I was challenged, by a mentor, to write something daily with someone new in mind, each day, for a month. It was just an exercise. I didn’t have to share anything. I didn’t have to tell anybody, publish my progress, or make a chart on a wall. I think the longest string I put together was ten days. I’d start by putting a name down at the top of the page and sketch out an introductory line, maybe a full sentence, start telling a story. If the idea was just to write something somebody else would get a kick out of, it kicked me in the ass. Instead of opening me up to a world of possibility the program log jammed into a jumble of self-incrimination until I threw up my hands like a mannequin in revolt and realized I could only relate to a small, select group of people at a time. When I relaxed and resigned myself to writing for people that registered on my aesthetic antennae I started getting what a sales professional would call referrals.
When someone asks if it would be all right if they shared something we wrote with somebody we might as well call Moses and say we know what it’s like to part the sea. The responsibility to spread the word isn’t always, or maybe even often, the author’s. To be sure getting it out there, building a platform etc. is part of the gig, but the ripple effect of being useful is a reward of forever skipping stones across a pond. The loyalty we build by writing within our connectivity circuit, as the designated scribe of the tribe, is itself part of the fuel that fires our imagination. Verbum sapienti sat est is the Latin origin of the phrase, “A Word to the Wise is Sufficient”. If it can be one of our words adding to the common wisdom, so much the better.