I always thought I had some flare for the arts. I’ve always been considered a creative person. I decided to put my creativity to a different use, however. I opted for a career in helping others get the most out of their careers. Tonight will be my testimony to helping the real artists get recognized. Tonight is Gallery Night. The weather station did not indicate anything about rain this evening. So, of course, I did not prepare for such a downpour.
My lack of preparation has left me with matted, soaking wet hair and my old gym sneakers that I keep in my trunk- rather than the cute brown pumps I started out in that blended perfectly with my skirt. Now, I’m just a mess and look completely unprofessional for Gallery Night. My Public Relations firm has been organizing this event for the past month. Tonight is a big deal. I can’t believe how awful I look for such a high-profile and anticipated night. Regardless of my appearance, I shook hands, exchanged stories, and matched wits with clients and colleagues all evening.
Everyone walked around the room observing the various artistic pieces contributed by numerous “starting-out” artists. People were being drawn to those certain pieces that caught their immediate attention. One painting that I was fascinated by was vibrantly colored – almost like a comic book. It was a bright red heart with a silver and blue sword piercing it from above. There was a hand clenching the sword’s fore grip. The part of this particular painting that really struck me was the faintly illustrated couple dancing on the blade of the sword, as if the blade were a mirror.
Overall, I was amazed at the use of color, defined lines, and emotion that this artist conveyed in his painting. The wall adjacent to me was full of photographs; some were full color, some in sepia, and others black and white. I glanced at this middle-aged woman, dripping in pearls and cashmere, who had one hand on her heart, and the other held her complimentary champagne close to her body as she stared at this one photograph, a black and white photo of a single muddy footprint. I was astounded at how in awe she appeared to be, almost as if she could burst into tears at any moment.
I had to know what she saw in this photograph that had her so awestricken. I walked over to her and asked her casually, “What do you see in this photo? ” She responded in a shaky voice, “I’ve felt this alone before, like I’m the only one in the world and I’m dripping with mud. Isn’t it masterful how the photographer captured that? ” I truly had no intelligent response to this. I politely nodded and slipped away. The evening turned out to be a success! Despite my personal appearance, I was quite satisfied with how Gallery Night went. I sighed with relief as I opened my front door.
I walked through the foyer and into the den- my shoes squeaking along the way. I took off my shoes and glanced behind me. I noticed I had left some muddy shoe prints in the foyer. I grabbed some paper towels to wipe up my mess. As I approached the floor of the foyer, I took a closer look at the mud prints I was about to wipe away. I mainly focused on just one which immediately brought my thoughts back to that middle-aged woman at Gallery Night. I pondered for that moment, and what seemed to be the rest of that night, “Could I be an artist?
Could a still photo as simple as a muddy footprint artistically capture so much emotion and provoke so much thought? ” According to Merriam- Webster Dictionary, an artist is one who practices an art, or one who creates objects of beauty. (p 57). I saw the artistic value of the heart and sword painting. The colors and the intricate lines of detail really shined through in the painting. There was clearly a story painted there. However, I failed to see anything beautiful or artistic in the footprint photo; yet alone a story or emotion that the photographer (or artist in this case) tried to demonstrate.
I saw a muddy footprint, a similar one that I made in my foyer, and nothing more. Art takes many different forms. It also comes in many different genres. There is the art of filmmaking, sculpting, molding, photographing, drawing, realistic or abstract painting, and so on. Some people favor the more abstract art, and draw their own conclusions to what the artist is trying to depict through just colors and shapes, rather than distinct forms. Others would prefer the clear cut and precise picture they are viewing and appreciate the dedication and long time that it took to create it.
This is true in my case because I appreciate artworks full of detail and different colorization; I appreciate artwork that looks like it took the artist more than a few hours to create. However, the photograph was simply that. A person took a picture of a footprint and framed it. I just cannot fathom that as artistic; therefore I cannot appreciate it as art. Anyone can do that, that doesn’t take much skill! There has to be a line drawn as to what makes someone an artist. Right now, there is no such line- it is a very gray area, which is why so many people are considered artists these days and the value of art has depreciated.
Some consider poetry a form of art, but does that mean anyone can be a poet? Doesn’t there have to be certain techniques followed in order for something to be considered poetry? Let’s say that all these techniques were followed by someone who’s chosen profession is a mechanic. This mechanic works ten hour days and has a long distance girlfriend. For their anniversary, he writes her a poem. His poem is short, and every other line rhymes. Since he sat down one night and thought of a few ways to rhyme words with his girlfriend’s features, can he now be considered a poet? When you think about it, writing poetry isn’t all that hard.
There are no firmly set guidelines to writing a poem. A poem can be any length and doesn’t even have to rhyme. The Merriam- Webster Dictionary’s definition of poetry is metrical writing. (p565). All one has to do is set some sort of tone to their writing and it can be considered poetry. Just like art, poetry comes in many different styles. There is the haiku. This is a Japanese form of poetry that consists of three lines: five syllable in the first and last lines and seven syllables in the second line. The haiku poem usually is written about nature and typically never rhymes (but this isn’t always the case).
Another form of poetry is the limerick. It is a five lined poem: the first, second and final line rhyming with each other, and the third and fourth line rhyming with one another. This form of poetry is usually humorous. One other form of poetry I’d like to mention is one of the hardest to write. It is the Shakespearean sonnet. It is a fourteen line poem, set in iambic pentameter and rhymes in couplets (abab cdcd efef gg). The hardest part of this poetry is that every other syllable is the stressed syllable throughout the poem. All of these types of poems follow a certain technique.
But not all poetry has a certain technique, so like art, where do we draw the line between pure poetry and just random writing? Taylor Mali is a contemporary performance poet. He is most noted for his “slam poetry”. One of his pieces is titled, “I Could Be a Poet”. This piece is a satirical and condescending poem about the basic techniques of writing poetry. His forward to the poem says “A poem for people who know how poems are supposed to be read”. And the sarcasm begins! “I think I could be a poet because I never learned how to breathe” (Mali, lines 1-6). Most poetry does not contain any form of punctuation.
Because of this, poems tend to read on without giving a breath or pause of some sort. Mali immediately follows these lines with examples of ridiculous images such as, “A Porsche pulling a U-Haul”. (Mali, line 9). This example, like the others, is showing that some poetry has a tendency to exhibit awkward images that make the reader think, “Where is this going? ” Mali hits on the “sing-song poets. ” The poems that are written in song form for the sake of being sung. “In love with the sound of their own voices. ” (Mali, line 16). Songwriters write about love, heartbreak, family, personal growth, etc.
They sing their songs for us, hoping that we will relate to them and maybe one day, sing along too. My favorite part of Mali’s, “I Could Be a Poet”, is contained in lines 24-27. “When it comes to making references to obscure works of literature that you should have read I am as bold as Chapati on the peak of Mt. Gaia slaying the three- headed Wetzelcottle. ” Okay, I’m afraid I have no idea what references he just made there, but I do know what he’s actually saying. Poets have made the mistake of trying to compare other types of literature to a feeling or event in their own poems.
Most of the references are obscure, like Mali pointed out. Some of which, the reader has never heard of. What the heck is a Wetzelcottle? I’m not about to research it, which I’m sure many readers would not either. This makes the reference irrelevant and now the reader has lost sight of what the poem is actually about. “I’m not afraid to SHOUT WITH INTENSITY! ” (Mali, lines 33-35). Clearly he is shouting because he capitalized all the words! I honestly cannot remember the last time I was shouted at calmly. Is there any other way to shout, other than with intensity?
Here is some more condescending on Mali’s behalf. By using all capital letters, the tone of the poem has obviously changed. In lines 39-43, Mali writes, “And the words, the vocabulary words-Glaconian, distemic, Koa-tahkah-nahbeyThrown in to remind you I am a writer! Eat my Verbal dust! ‘ My G. R. E. dust. ” I find these lines absolutely hilarious. He is right on the money with this! I would like to refer to a television program that I am quite fond of called, “Gilmore Girls”. This show has some very intense vocabulary in its script. The script is very fast-paced and witty.
I have to watch the show with a dictionary in lap in order to look up words that I’ve never heard of before. I usually look up about three words an episode. Writers really do like to add in some “million-dollar” vocabulary in order to make themselves sound more intelligent. When in actuality, they lose the reader with these words. Things can be made to sound much simpler. Instead of saying, “The disastrous implications of the pending reunion clearly slipped your mind,” you could say, “This reunion is going to be bad, what were you thinking?
Granted, the latter doesn’t sound nearly as intelligent, but it says the same thing in terms that everyone can understand. Writers should really take notice of this in their work. “And then the end Spoken softly, hauntingly tender, Though not devoid of irony Ending abruptly as if there is more” (Mali, lines 44-47). Poets like to end their poems with a bit of a cliffhanger; it is some line or observation that leaves the reader feeling unsatisfied or absolutely blown away at the end. Sometimes, there needn’t be anything else to say.
Sometimes the ending without an actual ending is enough and provokes thought and emotion to the reader. Then again, sometimes the ending makes no sense and the reader feels like they just invested all that time and emotion into this poem and was ultimately left with nothing. Is Mali a poet? Just because he hit on the many different techniques of poetry in one piece, doesn’t necessarily make him a poet. This poem hardly made any sense to me and doesn’t seem to fit into my idea of pure poetry.
If I can take three different paints and apply them to three different paintbrushes, then I take these paintbrushes and just randomly flail my arms at a canvas having the different colors appear in random places on this canvas, have I created something beautiful? Have I become an artist? Or if I write four lines, the second and last lines rhyme and the first and third do not-I write about my love for my friends; have I become a poet? There is no way of telling, it is how your work is perceived by your peers and authorities in that field. It is all left to interpretation. So, what will you be interpreted as today?