For a long while now, I’ve been trying to figure out why certain works of art (and poetry) speak so strongly and most others don’t. I am thinking that it could be the ones that shout out loud really are attempts by the artist to actually say something Real. What makes it Real is the courageous, open connection and access to the artist’s heart, it seems. A lot of times we shy away from being that exposed…and maybe that’s why the work we do only mumbles.
Entrepreneur Seth Godin once said, “As soon as you’re willing to say ‘It’s not for you,’ you’re freed up to make art.” What he’s pointing out, I think, is that if you try to make something that “everybody” will like, something that will not offend or disturb or otherwise ruffle feathers, you are probably compromising your art. You’re taking the nickel bet, churning out lots of little bits of meaningless stuff that most people will feel lukewarm about rather than aiming for a heart-grab that squeezes your own heart just as much as it squeezes your reader’s … one that actually means something to you and to the person with whom it resonates deeply.
The thing is, doing that means you have to shoot from your heart…and you know that’s going to hurt. So you waffle and you winge and you compromise and you piddle away the juice and it all turns wishy-washy. Pfui!
NEW RULES OF ENGAGEMENT
- Make what you love as best as you know how and use what you learn from that to get better at it.
- Have the courage to follow your instincts and your intuition even if they take you way, way out of your comfort zone.
- Take the risks you need to take to speak with your truest voice.
- Stand up for your work when you must and push back at the fears that eat at you (A-A-A-A-H! Nobody’s gonna like it. Everybody’s gonna hate it! A-A-A-A-H! I’m gonna have to eat Worms! Argh!)
- Turn it loose and let it fly or limp or lurch or whatever the heck it wants to do.
Do that over and over. Your audience WILL find you and they’re gonna love you (or possibly hate you). They will not go to sleep, however.
On to the poem:
ATTACK OF THE INNER BITCH
I am a sweetie-pie,
Really I am.
See my saccharine face?
It’s all overflowing with
The godawfullest sweetness and light.
I am sweeter than Krispy Kremes,
But, I gotta tell ya…
There’s this voice that comes:
The motormouth in my head,
The one that revs whenever
Someone comes all over “poor-t’ing me,”
And this is what that bitch says:
Yeah, yeah, yeah…
You are a precious and unique being…
One in seven billion and counting
And, yeah, you are in distress.
But, I gotta tell ya, babe,
You are trying my patience.
The histrionics that accompany
Your latest tale of woe-some-mo’…
Well, they bore me.
All that cryin’ and wailin’
Get in the way of working
Toward better solutions and resolves.
All that moaning
Trivializes your ordeal.
AND, it is giving me a headache!
Frankly, I ain’t got the time.
On a scale from one to ten,
In my world, your hell that’s playing itself out
In this here slice of heaven rates about a 1.5.
I mean, come on…
I only have the standard issue
31 million, 536 thousand seconds
Allotted to me every year, ya know.
Get on with it, get over it, or get it away from me….
By Netta Kanoho
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