THIS IS WHAT WRITER’S always try to maintain; the pleasure in their craft. Because if that pleasure dies, fades away or goes into hiding, then, as a creative person, you’re quite done.
I’d like to say otherwise but that’s the way I see it. And it’s likely to be true for any kind of writing, whether academic, journalistic, storytelling, editorial or even historical - but especially poetic writing.
So, poet, how can you maintain the pleasure? Well, there’s no ultimate guide I’m afraid!
The best I can say is that you have to remain true to yourself, to your creative self that is; that other side of you which exists in another realm, where the mundane struggles of daily life are irrelevant reminders of your quest and all that matters is heart and soul. And that is not an easy task. It takes perseverance.
What is easier or more doable is to practice, practice, and practice. And pleasure grows with it.
In my poem All these are mine, dedicated to PNG Attitude in 2011, I open with the quatrain,
These Thoughts are mine
But for now the Words remain Unspoken
Is it not Good to feel the Pleasure and Pain
Of Love and Loss and Life?
The closing quatrain concludes,
For Silence too is mine
Even as the Ink Speaks from these pages
My Thoughts drive Unwilling Hands
How can they still be mine?
This seems to capture the contradictions of a poet’s fate; to feel and experience as others do, to carry ‘unspoken words’ and yet to yield their ‘unwilling hands’ to relate truthfully the pleasure and pain of everything desired, imagined, learned about or experienced in life.
And we may often do this fighting ourselves all the way. But, if we should yield to our creative side and the urge to write poetry from our heart and soul, who can say what is impossible for us to create?
The other pleasure of writing is to have your work read and appreciated by someone else.
For 17 years I was happily writing poems for my own pleasure, and sharing them with another person only rarely, when I had worked up the courage. And most times the response was not very helpful!
If I had continued that way my work would likely have faded away like the whisper from the tail end of a ghost, and along with it my pleasure. But, as fate would have it, along came a Pukpuk!
The Crocodile Prize allows writers and poets to share their creative works. Baring your heart and soul in your writings is not something done very lightly, and it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. But it is the best way of improving your craft, broadening your scope as a creative writer and sharing insights and inspiration with colleagues. There is strength in unity, and this grows with the blessing of diversity (not vice versa as some may propagandise!).
For this sharing of creative work to happen there must be an atmosphere of openness in sharing where care and respect for the writer is balanced with a desire to explore and encourage a writer to search deep within themselves for the writing that will elevate us all to the heights of creative pleasure and allow others to enjoy the pleasure of our creations.
The Crocodile Prize, through PNG Attitude, gives us a special place, which is in the company of other writers and poets. This special place must be nurtured and protected. And with the launch of the Papua New Guinea Society of Writers, Editors and Publishers last year, and the election of office bearers, this project is now firmly placed in our hands.
Now it is our task to move on, both creatively, as writers, and constructively, as a society who may now begin to recognize the voice of its own conscience. We must let our people hear this voice. Let’s make the pleasure of writing, for us and for them, our business.
Lines about the choice to write or not to write
A single moment
And twenty years later…
And several pages
From an alternative past;
How to decide?
Perhaps we don’t, really.
Who hears you?
Who do you tell?
Who will know?
Who will ever know?
When it happens,
Note, the last line is simply a period, “.”. I had written as the last line, “You alone must answer”, but that sounded too much like preaching, so I deleted it. But, because my other hand was dripping with an Aussie burger I stopped short of deleting the full stop. When I looked back up to read the verse it somehow struck me as being very appropriate.
The foregoing poem was written in Room 846 of Royal Adelaide Hospital Residential North Wing on 2 February 2013 at 11:55am. I constructed this poem with 1, 2, 3, and 4 words in each line, to keep it as concise as possible, but without losing grammatical correctness (except capitalisation) or sounding unusual when read
Luke’s dream of Touaguba Hills
Night dreams of bone dry
Chalky yellow afternoons;
Children are playing
As flames raze the leeward side;
Harbour lights sparkling,
Ashes dancing in pink skies;
Created on the spur of the moment after reading a comment by Luke Johnson on my poem, 'Kasen no renga: Memories of Mosbi', on 13 February 2013