“The proper response to a work of art is joy, even hilarity.” When I read this on page thirteen of Ted Kooser’s The Poetry Home Repair Manual, and saw that there was a chapter called Don’t Worry About the Rules, I knew I could not only read this book, I could write a poem or two of my own. And have fun doing it.
I’m also having fun drawing and painting without knowing the rules – those will come in time. Kooser tells us, “there’s nothing wrong with delighting in what you do.” I loved drawing and then painting this chair, which isn’t red in the real world.
I hope these quotes inspire you to approach your art, whatever it is, with lightness and gaiety.
A work of art defines itself into being, when we awaken into it and by it, when we are moved, altered, stirred. It feels as if we have done nothing, only given it a little time, a little space; some hairline-narrow crack opens in the self, and there it is.
You do not even have to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait. Do not even wait, remain still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you unasked. It has no choice. It will roll in ecstasy at your feet.
I suspect that the freshest and most engaging poems most often don’t come from ideas at all.
I’d rather work twenty-four hours a day in my studio and come in here and fall down on the bed than do anything I know. Because it is living. It’s like pure water; it’s living. The essence of living is in doing, and in doing, I have made my world and it’s a much better world than I ever saw outside.
The aim of the poet and the poetry is finally to be of service, to ply the effort of the individual work into the larger work of the community as a whole.
Seamus Heaney, writing on William Butler Yeats
Poems that change our perceptions are everywhere you look, and one of the definitions of poetry might be that a poem freshens the world.
…there’s nothing wrong with delighting in what you do…