Composing a traditional poem is both an emotional and intellectual exercise: the process of articulating the chaotic matters of the heart and shaping them into utterances that follow a coherent pattern. To the rational artist, it is an exhilarating and engrossing task impossible to replicate in any other poetic style.
It is always the first version you hear of a song that you tend to prefer. Today I discovered that Gareth Dickson’s “Atmosphere” is a Joy Division cover (having finally listened to their discography) and naturally, I prefer Gareth Dickson’s interpretation.
I return tentatively to working on poetry today. There is no occupation so fulfilling.
Early in the morning, the garden is in bloom with spiderweb blossoms; suspended in the expired Sea Lavender stems, they sparkle in the sunlight—galaxies of gems!
A respite from the demands of life comes to me in an iridescent flutter, cheeping and fleeting in the garden. There is no end to my enjoyment of the sunbirds so forgiving of my presence whatever the time of day. First is the Southern Double-collared Sunbird (Cinnyris chalybeus) and second, the Malachite Sunbird (Nectarinia famosa). To say that I adore them is to express nothing of my love for these creatures!
I am reluctant to work on poetry when I am beset by the frustrations of secular life—as lately I have been—lest they contaminate somehow the beauty I seek to create.
When sensitive children are born to parents ill-equipped to raise them—burdening them with a sense of shame (for who they are) and unworthiness (for failing to measure up to some unattainable, ill-conceived ideal)—it can be difficult for them to do the work of determining their self-worth. Their way becomes obscured by self-doubt, insecurity and fear, and they devote themselves to earning validation through the exploitation of their gifts. For artists, this often results in a perversion of their work, which they abuse to gain attention—creating to please rather than praise, protest or perfect—devoid of an authentic vision, producing whatever will soothe the desperation within.
Of a sensitive disposition myself, I have come to learn that it was a product of pure chance that I was born to parents incapable of truly understanding my nature; that I grew up with false information about myself—a distorted reflection of my value not only from them, but also those individuals into whose care they placed me. Were I born to parents capable of properly raising a sensitive child, I would not suffer the emotional handicap that thwarts me today. I have learnt that I do have worth, but that it was never affirmed in the way I needed it to be—as a boy, a young man, and now a man. This knowledge is liberating. It gives me a glimpse of life without anxiety, penance and doubt.
If poetry is the music of words, then mine is a joyful tune—in a minor key.
The South African autumn is plucking from the peach tree its leaves; they lay like flecks of gold on the grass.