“…your clumsy dance”

a poemdance
© by Christine O’Brien

The violence of birth
an entry point
we are all players here
what capsule did I take
that made me forget
my origin?
Are these words a tunnel
I follow towards that illusive speck of light?
When I reach the end, might I…
dissolve in a fizzle or a sudden nova.

Some say a star is flung into the night
“Find your place in the order of things”
says one of the true gods
or, is chaos our real plight
and are we doomed to try to carve
sense out of nonsense?
or not?
Can I then “dance my clumsy dance”
stop seeking truth long enough to see it
dazzling everywhere?

****
I’ve posted this quote from Pablo Neruda in an earlier blog…but when I found my poem above, I had forgotten where “dance my clumsy dance” came from.  Ah, Neruda, of course.

“There is no insurmountable solitude. All paths lead to the same goal: to convey to others what we are. And we must pass through solitude and difficulty, isolation and silence in order to reach forth to the enchanted place where we can dance our clumsy dance and sing our sorrowful song – but in this dance or in this song there are fulfilled the most ancient rites of our conscience in the awareness of being human and of believing in a common destiny.”  Pablo Neruda

Writing Prompt:
What’s your clumsy dance looking like these days?  Do a free write using this prompt.  Write until your pen runs out of ink…just kidding.  Write for as long as you have something to say about this.

Pablo Neruda’s Book of Questions

In an earlier blog, I quoted an excerpt from the Chilean poet and writer, Pablo Neruda’s essay on “The Word.”

One of Neruda’s books, The Book of Questions, was translated by William O’Daly, in 1991.

oceanbeach1

Following is one of his poetic questions:

When I see the sea once more
will the sea have seen or not seen me?

Why do the waves ask me
the same questions I ask them?

And why do they strike the rock
with so much wasted passion?

Don’t they get tired of repeating
their declaration to the sand?

I’ve read this little nugget of a poem several times.  It’s comparable to a Koan–“a paradoxical anecdote or riddle, used in Zen Buddhism to demonstrate the inadequacy of logical reasoning and to provoke enlightenment.” Wikipedia

I read that Neruda began writing poetry when he was ten years old.  I’m imagining that everything became a poem to him.  As children, we are full of our questions wanting answers.  Frequently, we befuddled the adults around us as there are so many unanswerable questions.  Yet, we must ask them.  It feels to me like Neruda gave himself permission to ask his questions, our questions, universal questions and then to answer them by furthering his own interrogative reasoning within the bounds of a poem.

His offered questions provoke our own questions and contemplation.

WRITING PROMPT:
Have you considered your own questions?  What questions would you like answers to?  Might you find some answers as you write your own poetry?  Or at least a place to safely log the questions?

Pablo Neruda–“The Word”

Pablo Neruda was a renowned and prolific Chilean poet and diplomat.  He won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1971.  The fictionalized 1995 film, The Postman (Il Postino), takes place in Italy during Neruda’s time in exile.

Neruda loved his native language, Spanish (Chilean).  He wrote in this native tongue; there have been beautiful translations of his work.

The following bit of prose, translated into English, transmits this love and the preciousness of words to him. This is only a partial excerpt from Neruda’s homage to “The Word”.  I’m sorry that I cannot give credit to the translator as it wasn’t available.

The Word
by Pablo Neruda

“You can say anything you want, yessir, but it’s the words that sing, they soar and descend…I bow to them…I love them, I cling to them, I run them down, I bite into them, I melt them down…I love words so much…the unexpected ones…the ones I wait for greedily or stalk, until suddenly, they drop…Vowels I love…they glitter like colored stones, they leap like silver fish, they are foam, thread, metal, dew…I run after certain words…They are so beautiful that I want to fit them all into my poem…I catch them in mid flight, as they buzz past, I trap them, clean them, peel them.  I set myself in front of the dish.  They have a crystalline texture to me, vibrant, ivory, oil, like fruit, like algae, like aggates, like olives…and then I stir them, I shake them, I drink them, I gulp them down, I mash them, I garnish them, I let them go…I leave them in my poem like stalactites, like slivers of polished wood, like coals, pickings from a shipwreck, gifts from the waves…Everything exists in the word…”

Writing Prompt:
A brief meditation.  Get quiet, shut your eyes, take a few deep breaths.  Continue to follow the slow in and the slow out breath.  Experience the release of what you think you know with each out breath.  Experience your openness to something new with each in breath.  Ask for entry into the land of the WORD.  In your imagination, construct that land.  Visit it for a few minutes as you continue to follow the slow in and the slow out breath.  When  you feel ready, open your eyes.  Pick up your pen and let your words flow onto the page–write your own homage to the word.

peony

LaLaLaLaLa–Finding Your Voice

As a budding writer, how do you find your “true voice”?  Painters ask this same question when they cry in dismay “How do I find my style?”  The truth for writers (and any artist) is that a) it’s always there and b) practice.

When I’m in conversation with someone, if there is a degree of familiarity, I hear their “true voice” readily.  There is no need to hide when we feel comfortable with disclosing ourselves to someone.  We shield ourselves when we don’t feel familiar or safe.  We make “small talk”.

How do  you recognize your writer’s voice–it tells the truth.  Think of it more as “Finding Your Perspective” or your “Point of View.”   Take global warming as an example.  What is your perspective on this?  Is it a reality or something that some scheming political party or corporate interest has made up?  If you follow that thread, as if in conversation with someone, what would you say?  How would you say it?  What you say and your tone are reflections of your writer’s voice.

For instance, if I were of the belief that global warming is a hoax.  I might expound on how we are being duped into believing this for certain profit-making organizations or corporate interests?  If I feel passionate about this, then my ire could rise and that would come through in my writing also.  Though I’d look for “facts” to back up this perspective and insinuate them in my writing, it would still be my perspective and expressed in my own distinct way.  How convincing could you be if you wrote from a place that is opposite to what you believe?  How in touch with your true writer’s voice would you be?  I’m guessing a good, practiced fiction writer could do this. If that is your genre, then it’s another story altogether.  However, even a good fiction writer has an overall style that can be recognizable to her/his readers.

Writing Tip

Several years ago, I purchased a hand-held mini recorder.  For me, it was handier than a notebook when I was either driving or out hiking on a trail.  I could instantly record a passing thought, a whole poem or ideas for future writings.  When I replay the recording, I hear “my true voice”.  When you write, when you record your voice, compare to see if you write as  you speak.

A poem by Pablo Neruda

“All paths lead to the same goal
to convey to others what we are.
And we must pass through solitude
and difficulty, isolation and silence
in order to reach forth to
the enchanted place
where we can dance
our clumsy dance
sing our lonesome song
but in this dance or in this song
there are fulfilled the most ancient rite
of our conscience
in the awareness of being human
and of believing in a common destiny.”

Writing Prompt
Begin with the line “What I most want to convey to others is…” and write extemporaneously for a period of time that you decide.  Read aloud what you wrote.  If you have a recorder, record yourself reading this aloud.  Are you surprised by anything that you wrote?  How do you sound to yourself when you play back the recording (if you made one)?