We all seek that spark of inspiration.
We crave its challenge, relish its rewards,
welcome its trigger; its motivation;
its promise of profit … as such affords.
Inspiration is an essence; of sorts,
an energy, a fine spirit at best.
It’s a shapeless elixir that contorts
the grip of reason with a dose of zest.
It’s the will of conviction with fresh claim
to a stale idea, it’s the modern twist,
the contemporary spin; it’s the vim, the flame
that fires-up passion … it’s stamina’s grist.
. Inspiration is that breath of fresh air
. that fuels a flicker to generate flare.
To the reader: Inspiration is something more than motivation. Both nouns describe an action. We can be motivated to do all manner of tasks that are hardly inspiring; the reverse is harder to imagine. Unlike motivation, inspiration finds its source beyond basic needs; and further more, is not dependent upon base rewards to maintain an interest. The mark of genuine inspiration is enthusiasm.
To the poet: Another sonnet that took some stubborn shaping; thought pieces are like that. The poem’s theme is inspiration and should have been delivered through the guise of enthusiasm; instead, it reads like a cerebral exercise. The final couplet once read: “Welcome inspiration with open arms… it’s the antidote to worrisome qualms”. A nice couplet, but the sonnet wasn’t about worry’s antidote; it was about the spirit of inspiration.
By the end of childhood I learned to draw
fine lines (with keen eyes and measured skill).
I learned to draw what mattered; to ignore
the distractions (there were no marks for frill).
How to overcome the errors of sight?
How to foreshorten an odd perspective?
These were the problems you had to get right:
minimal tolerance for technical give.
All things became parallel, rightly squared;
they had to marry-well to plot or grid;
they had to tally-well or be repaired;
they had to mirror what the real world did.
. After childhood there are no wonky lines;
. they neatly straighten and become designs.
To the reader: At school I enjoyed technical drawing classes, they appealed to my style of measured sketch; where objects take shape according to long-held principles of linear geometry. Tools of the trade were important and taking care of them was critical to achieving a clean result. Of all the lessons I learned at school it was through technical drawing I best understood myself. I freely gave away my naive interpretation of the visual world and adopted rules that enabled me to draw what I see.
To the poet: Between naivety and mastery lies frustration. It’s unfortunate that we abandon our fresh expression of life through naive art… but understandable. Expression, in all its forms, is a social tool that evolves to meet expanding needs. The licence to communicate has rules that can be stretched and personalised but ultimately an audience will accept or reject the value of art. Selecting an appreciative audience is one solution… avoid criticism; create your own applause.
A child’s painting is made without restraint:
it’s vivid and vibrant, it’s bold and bright.
A child’s canvas holds a pallet of paint:
a bucket of brilliance and sheer delight.
She paints a garden under sunny skies;
dabbles the brush over petal and stem.
She gently strokes the wings of butterflies;
and so imagines she is one of them.
She paints her world on a borderless page;
with abundance her landscapes grow and stretch;
colours explode, shapes expand; there’s no cage
that can contain the wonders of her sketch.
. In a child’s garden there’s room for belief,
. a world of wonders for adult relief.
To the reader: We out-teach the artistic instinct in children and then hanker for its return throughout our adult years. A child’s interpretation of the world is a fairly spontaneous imitation of experience; translated using naive means. The young artist (untrained in tricks and tools of the perceptive trade) makes-do. Without mastery, a child is free of restrictions; free to draw upon raw imagination. This medium has no separation; this medium is the closest we get to living art.
To the poet: The irony of this sonnet is its tight control over the thematic centrepiece – naive liberty. It’s an adult’s carefully scripted celebration of a child’s artistic freedom. Unfortunately, there’s a trade-off that comes with age and mastery: skill becomes an interpretative filter. The more skilled I become the more capable I am of manipulating my experiences; consequently, inspiration is overwhelmed by technique. The redeeming feature is freshness … did inspiration survive the productive ordeal?
For millennia we have scribed our thoughts;
put pen to paper and as such preserved
all manner of inspiration… all sorts
of wonder. So conscripted, we’ve conserved
in good faith the font of reason’s reference.
Forever more attached, writ and listed:
sentenced, word-by-word, the very essence
of a flourish: styled but never twisted.
Written as to permeate our culture,
bold-stroked messages indelibly inked
to imitate form, or shape a future
world; built upon words, most beautifully linked.
. It’s the cursive script of pen or quill,
. that reveals the hand of a writer’s will.
Tim Grace, 14 December 2011
To the reader: I was wondering… were the Egyptians able to turn a poetic phrase in hieroglyphic form? In search of an answer, I stumbled on the ‘Lettrist Movement’ led by Isidore Isou; post the second world war. Lettrism’s Manifesto rallied against the atomised letter and the destructive power of the word. Far from enabling freedom of thought, lettrists perceived letters and words as insidious links in a constricting chain; manipulated by the literati. According to Lettrism, the hieroglyph does less damage in transporting and translating an experience across a thoughtful medium such as poetry. I’m still wondering…
To the poet: Letterism aside, preservation of a word-based poem requires a script that will authentically transport a message through time and space; so that some time later… the distant reader can retrieve their own uniquely crafted assembly of ideas. In scripting a poem, the skill is in the crafted management of its future impact on the reader. Used too functionally, too literally, the script can lack fertile nuance and starve the text of ambiguous translation; for at the heart of reading and writing poetry is creative interpretation.
I am the universe, of all things made.
I am the nothingness, that vast expanse.
I am the treasury of life’s parade.
I am the first step, I am the last dance.
You are the timely natural consequence
of that which occurs and comes to pass.
You are the perfect, ideal, confluence
of all things given to a common class.
We are the harvest, the expectation;
we are the whole, much greater than its parts.
We are the wonder, the fascination;
we are the child of Science and the Arts.
. Together… one drop in a constant stream.
. Together… one stitch in an endless seam.
Tim Grace, 27 November 2011
To the reader: A description of everything must include thought; not just the enactment of thought. Any mental configuration is a construct of the universe. To claim that anything, once thought, doesn’t exist is a fallacy. Our power to imagine does not exist outside the universe. If we imagine an omnipotent power then such a Thing exists. Any claim that the Thing does not exist is as questionable as the original figment of imagination that created the Thing. We can argue about the Thing but not of its existence … it has been thought, therefore it exists; for good or ill.
To the poet: In providing commentary to this cluster of poems it’s obvious that at the time of writing them (in late 2011) I was conscious of the sonnet’s fourteen-line shape. There’s a regular use of four-line blocks visually similar; architectural in design. The stanzas are built like reinforced pillars preparing the way for a capstone-couplet. Some where, I recall reading, the sonnet is a poetic form that mirrors the Golden Ratio.