February 24th, 2009

Office Poetry

One of the things I like about having friends is that I learn things from them. When I showed up to meet HAT yesterday for snacks and conversation, she was reading this book on poetry and where it fits in life.

The portion she happened to be reading at the time was about the lack of business in poetry. Not the kind where poetry doesn’t pay, which is so obvious that it doesn’t need repeating. The author noted that while many major poets had serious jobs in business—yes, you, Wallace Stevens—their work lives don’t appear in their poetry.

We talked about why. Some of it is the abstract nature of business. Some of it is essentially snobbism: poetry is the real job of poets, no matter how they pay the bills. Some of it may be a refusal to plug into the nontraditional symbols of the office when there are such rich and exploitable symbols in the natural world, the home, the private moments.

And so over the next week, we are going to write office poems. (We first met in an office, actually…) For HAT, this will probably mean yet another work of genius. For me, more an exercise. For both of us another moment to transform the ordinary. I am lucky to have such friends.

Want to?

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, the day when one cleans up the ashes of the Mardi Gras celebration. Hey, it is not the worst explanation of Ash Wednesday ever… Anyway, Lent starts tomorrow.

I’ve pretty much gotten over the idea of giving up things for Lent. By nature, I resent the limited pie nature of that view of things. Not that I personally couldn’t benefit from giving up certain things (No, actually, I would NOT like any helpful suggestions here. People change when they are ready to change or when outside forces are so strong that they have no other choice.).

However, the idea of a time for spiritual growth and reflection definitely appeals, something that shifts the thinking, taps into the stupendous wealth of the universe, or the glory of God, if that language works for you. Please note that while I am a person of faith, faith of any particular flavor, or any faith at all, is not required in this context.

So I have a plan. I find people with plans dangerous when they head my direction because it usually means they want me to do something I am probably not willing or able to do. The good news is that while I am a person with a plan heading in your direction, you are in complete control of whether you want to join me in this.

For the forty days (not counting Sundays) of Lent, I am going to do a small art or writing project each day. My first thought was to do a poem a day, but then I remembered that I like to play with markers and glue, too, and that because it is a less familiar way of working I sometimes learn more when I do other things. Want to join me and share the journey? Let me add one more piece of information: Lent continues until Easter, which, this year, happens to fall on my birthday. Lent can be kind of like a virtual 40-day party leading up to my 41st birthday.

I’m posting this to my blog, which cross-posts to my Facebook account and my website, and I’m emailing it to other people who may not (and why not???) see it in those other spots. So you may be tired of reading about it already. Let me know if you want to play along!

Lent Art Community!

To follow up on my previous post, I created a blog community on LiveJournal as a place to post whatever art we make during Lent. The community name is lentart, but I'm not sure I get how people join it, even though I set it up, I think, so that anyone with an account can do it. I am willing to bet that all you smarter people can figure out how to do it, but I will keep looking for directions if that's not true.

If you are interested in joining the art-making but don't want to make a (free) LiveJournal account to do it, you can send things to me and I can post them for you.

I'm excited!