Poetry in the Everyday
So: What does the title of this blog post mean? Here’s one pearl of an answer:
The Jim Jarmusch movie Patterson captures well this idea of everyday inspiration. This is something I think many artists, particularly young artists (and by young I do not so much mean in age as in experience) overlook. In the many years I’ve taught, my young students continuously attempt to write about big, important things–war, peace, racism, sexism, etc. They attempt to write stories with major events–car crashes and explosions and catastrophic events. And it’s true that these topics and events can oftentimes be the stuff of great art or, at the very least, great storytelling. But to write with these things as the goal can oftentimes lead us astray.
I’ve been on a kick for about a year now to spread the word of the everyday, and in addition to classrooms, have even given a talk or two on it. Everyday material can make great art, and oftentimes serves as a doorway to the big, important topics we long so much to address in our work. I think it’s our impulse to diminish the value of our own experiences that sometimes results in this rejection of the everyday. But if we visit and revisit our routines–the people and buildings we pass by on our way to work, the birds that alight our bird feeders or the display windows we pass by during our evening jaunts (more on the value of walking later), the taste of a tomato or the way a colleague laughs or her daily change of earrings, material is presented to us over and over and over again, opportunities to be creative and to see the world anew are there every minute, every second. It also helps us thread experiences together, to make meaning in what can oftentimes feel meaningless.
Creativity is about connection. In its most pure sense, it’s about connection with our immediate world. To ignore our immediate world is to disconnect from life, and there is no creativity in that.