Drawing poetry, writing lines
With writing as with music it helps to start from the most fundamental thing, which is that it is all a problem of navigation, as if one might navigate through a river keeping sight of both banks. Both banks being opposing arguments that one must keep a balance of. As for instance, when you ask: What exactly is poetry?
The answers could be many. It all depends on who you ask. One could search the internet only to find the answer explained in an historical way, the keywords to tell us how poetry was defined in times past, and over time, how it was understood, and used, and found useful from ancient times until now. And yet, in sum they would all simply be this and that. Not much useful to tell us how it would be written if we would write it.
This and that are banks of a river we must sail through, keeping watch not to sail too close to one or the other. Since, as one might find by reading history: Much of recent history has been devoted to redefining everything that has to do with art, writing and music. And since the act of redefining must start by questioning existing definitions, then it goes to follow that all these in their traditional forms must be deemed obsolete, at least to some nuanced extent.
It is not that traditional forms are bad for us. In our time, it has simply become fashionable to blur the borders between them. And all these, with the best intentions, to be sure. For these have all to do with tolerance and license. Retrace the issue back to the question: Who owns poetry? Who has the final right to define it? Or decide if it is good or not? Or even more fundamental, When is it different from an essay? Or even much more distant, When is it different from a novel?
Perhaps it is like jazz. If you have to ask…..
The questions are neither plain nor unanswerable. Quite so, the possible answers are simply too many that it boggles the mind to choose among them. But this fact should not deter. It should make the act of doing simply that much more interesting. And theoretically, that much more liberating.
Visual artists educate themselves to the particular extent when their eyes become ready to see form clearly. Line is their most fundamental form. Can a line be more beautiful and aesthetic than another? To find out, draw many lines willy-nilly on a piece of paper. Now look which line is better than another. How would you know? Search for the lines which “feel” better. Don’t ask why. Aesthetics is not ruled by reason. This “feeling” is immediate. Or at least, that’s what the books say.
Now take the most beautiful lines from the paper and string them one after the other and then you will have a drawing. And then you ask: How does one do this? How does one recreate the lines once they have been drawn on paper? The answer would take too long for this space. But start finding out by searching “muscle memory.”
For the poet, lines are words. Some words look, sound and feel better than others. To find out for sure, sit at a likely table and then write down the names of everything that is on it. In this particular case, the keyboard, the screen, the fingers, unkempt fingernails, change for coffee perhaps a bit of time later, after this is mailed, Palawan honey in a pocket-sized bottle, a bottle of powdered skimmed milk, a box of cigarettes, the place mat, the dark blue bag containing pills and capsules and quite unexpectedly a bottle of deodorant, etcetera.
Like lines, words are subject to rhythm and harmonies and psychology. Lines tell all, just like words, including the most personal emotions and thoughts behind the fingers, the hands, the arms, the body, the mind from which all words and lines emanate.
Erasers are not encouraged for students of drawing, even if all rules must be questioned eventually and personally for applicability as one grows into the discipline. Editing is the crux of all writing. Some say, it is not so much how good a writer one is but how good an editor. Which, since it sounds too much like a rule, must be questioned eventually and personally for applicability as one grows into the discipline.
And then you ask: Are beauty and aesthetics all that an artist, or poet, or writer must aspire to? So then do this ending quite badly. End here.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.