Dearest friends, with the new year just round the corner, it seems a little odd not to give my 10-month-old blog a teeny bit of reviewing. Let me clichédly but sincerely begin by thanking every one of you for your encouragement, feedback, advice and faithful support over the year. Most bloggers know the trick, “you reap what you sow”, that by revelling in sprees of sowing “likes” and “follows” indiscriminately that one can quickly reap hundreds or thousands of responses in return; the practice is highly rational and fairly prevalent in the blogging community but never a proclivity of mine, because our connections and friendships are much too valuable to be watered down so carelessly. I’d rather let the organic growth do the dancing while focusing on establishing quality interactions with you.
Without further ado, here’s my review: On the quantitative, yours truly wrote 74 independent works plus a few tandem pieces – approximately one entry every four days. To a father of three with a full-time job, that’s the rate of a fairly indulged hobby, but, thank heavens, still healthily shy of an addiction’s. On the qualitative, I witnessed my own growth from a novice too nervous of giving away his personality and of committing mistakes to one who has reined in his self in all its vulnerability and inexperience, as well as from shifting the creative focus from mimicking techniques and developing styles to simply explore in poetry and listen to the heart.
The late designer Charles Eames said, “The extent to which you have a design style is the extent to which you have not solved the design problem.” Perhaps the same can much apply to a poet’s style and the poetry problem from which it emerges. The purpose of poetry, now that I’ve realised, is more than the connection between the poet and the reader, but also fundamentally a pathway for the poet’s conscious to resolve the unconscious – whether the struggle is loneliness, moral conflict, doubt, guilt, indignation, discontent, fear … or even, to some frivolous expressions, just plain boredom.
The featured image today is a photo I took from the bushy alley which I traverse every work day back and forth the dormitory and the office. In this untroubled pocket of nature between the workshop and the factory’s periphery, with the machinery humming incessantly on one side and the street traffic racketing on the other, I’m greeted by a refreshing sight of verdancy and a rich diversity of birds, reptiles and insects, apart from Robbie, of course, our head of security, the nine-year-old German Shepherd. During my cosy two-minute commute, depending on the time and direction, my mind either prepares itself for the day’s agenda or winds down from it, and therefore also making the bushy alley a creative sanctuary where I frequently cross path with my muses too.
Much like the design problem to Eames, the thematic statements to a filmmaker or the holy grail of beauty to an artist, every poet must ask himself/herself the same question. Here, the bushy alley becomes my answer in a nutshell: The connection of my private self (the dormitory) with its public counterpart (the office) that runs parallel with my internal struggles (the sweatshop) and external ones (the street), at the same time enclosed by present reality (the factory job) but on the lookout for future possibilities (whatever beyond the wrought iron fence) is the perfect snapshot of what my poetry means to me.
“Most people ignore most poetry because most poetry ignores most people.” Although the famous Adrian Mitchell’s quote seems poetically sound and appeals to many, I don’t exactly agree with it: Logically speaking, be it a preacher or a poet, even one as sagacious as St Paul cannot be “all things to all men” all the time. In the contrary, I believe what first and foremost a poet shouldn’t ignore is rather his/her own soul, because only poetry that is true to one’s heart has the potential to resonate in another’s – and, as I imagine, amongst no more than a handful of neighbouring pigeonholes (well, at least, St Paul couldn’t have naturally preached to a Chinese). With this in mind, not to dismiss the value of friendly pointers and constructive criticisms altogether, but like what I stated at my blog’s opening, I do not and shall not see it as a poet’s duty to stand answerable to expectations and critiques. I confess my works are often amateur and not pleasingly eloquent, whereas the trickle of following doesn’t ever multiply overnight (oh, you wish!); but, heck, I’m proud of having poured out my thoughts and emotions into mostly meaningful and sometimes melodious patterns of words … and I’m having fun with it!
Surely, if I ditch the bushy alley, I can walk through the sweatshop, or I can walk round the periphery; but, what’s the fun in that? So, even if my poetry will remain peskily baffling to some friends and family, I hope it will continue to stay true to my heart in the coming year. (Cheers to that, would you?)
That’s it from me, friends. Till then; many blessings to you and your family in 2018! 🙂