Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Participate in the Process

Charles Olson

You must speak to your community.

The poet Vincent Ferrini, talking about poet Charles Olson, said "Everybody has to find his or her place. You find a place and you operate from that place. Once you find that place, that place becomes the center of the whole cosmos. It’s like the dot that keeps the circle going around it. So the center and the circumference are the same thing. Especially if you find your place and work that place to the best of your ability. So you participate in the process. "

That last sentence is crucial: participate in the process. Don't stand apart from it throwing explosives into the group like an Oakland policeman attacking Occupy Wall Street protesters. Join the group, listen and speak, participate in the process. The idea of the artist as magical outsider is cowardice not purity. Don't give up your selfhood, but be open to other voices and offer dialogue not monologue. Participate in the process of creating a community, a place, an idea of what it is to be human today, now, in this place.

I don't believe you can live one place and write for another -- the massification of something as local as drama has led to homogenization and and impoverishment. Drama not written for a specific place is like supermarket tomatoes compared to those you grow in your back yard -- mealy, watery, lacking in nutrition and gusto. Find your place. Write for it. If others find that what you have written speaks to them, that is gravy, but it is not the goal. Charles Olson said "Polis is eyes." It is you looking out through your own eyes at a place.

Participate in the process.

1 comment:

Yella said...

Like. Quite like.