On June 11, Shelagh Rogers interviewed Canadian poets Lorna Crozier and Patrick Lane on CBC’s “The Next Chapter”.
The whole interview is delightful. Crozier and Lane come across as thoughtful, gentle, creative people. Their deep love and respect for one another is obvious in every response to Rogers’ questions. Their commitment to their art of words is an inspiration.
The entire interview can be heard as a podcast at http://www.cbc.ca/thenextchapter/podcast.html
At the end of the interview Patrick Lane spoke movingly about why he has occupied himself for so many years with the strange enterprise of writing poetry. Lane says,
People ask me ‘Why poetry? Why would you do that?’ But you know there’s nothing more remarkable than to be deeply spiritually obsessed with making things of beauty. That’s pretty special.
Sadly,the world seems these days mostly too busy for beauty. Many of us have lost the art of “making things of beauty”.
We rush around wanting to be productive, making good use of our time, and getting the job done.We attach ourselves to electronic devices determined that we must never be out of touch. We buy faster and smarter and smaller computers in the hopes that they will help us navigate successfully through the complexities of life.
But beauty is seldom practical and rarely fast. It does not sell well on the commodities exchange. It is inefficient.
Beauty most often comes slowly. It will not be forced or driven. It is available only to the one who opens with gentleness and walks softly through life.
Most of us are no longer trained in the skills of beauty. We have lost the art of waiting, the discipline of listening carefully, of stepping aside from the rush of life and simply watching. We seldom feed deeply from the well-spring of wonder the world has to offer. So, it is hard for us to share in the process of producing the beauty that has the capacity to nurture that deep dimension of our being with which we long to connect.
In her poem “Wilderness” Lorna Crozier contemplates the flat prairie of her native Saskatchewan where she finds guidance for the way back to being people who share in “making things of beauty”.
Like Mrs. Moodie I could say
the wilderness moved inside me
but where the is no bush,
the wilderness is different.
It’s really space that rushes at you
in spite of fences, the grid roads
laid in graphs across the earth.
A space not as empty as
you might imagine, it’s a thing itself
minus details you can’t separate
the whole into any parts.
The worst is
it doesn’t need you.
It goes on and on whether the land
is broken or not, whether a town makes
its small exclamation mark or flattens out.
What’s most like the prairie
is the mind of God, the huge way
he must have of looking at the world.
That’s why I feel small and scared
inside myself, and yet at times
full of wonder.
In order to enter into the wonder of “making things of beauty” we must enter that space that is “a thing itself”. We must have our eyes opened to the consciousness that can no longer “separate/ the whole into any parts”.
It is not an easy journey to this spacious place where creativity happens and all life is connected. It takes courage to walk out where space “rushes at you”. It requires the willingness to open to something that is bigger than yourself, something that “doesn’t need you”.
In order to find or way back to “making things of beauty, we must face that place within ourselves where we “feel small and scared”. It is there that we will encounter an awareness that life is “at times/ full of wonder” and having known the “wonder”, we will be able to produce the beauty the flows from that encounter.