Abbott Kinney (situated between Santa Monica and Marina Del Rey) is famous for its Avante garde style, and it’s cool, hip vibe. Named after the famous developer who built the Venice Canals in 1905, the main strip boasts of some of the finest restaurants, artsy shops, wine galleries and fun to meet local artists. There is enough here to satisfy a tourist or a local for hours and a definite stop-over if you are visiting Los Angeles. Here are some pictures, Enjoy!
“Ink runs from the corners of my mouth”
Eating Poetry by Mark Strand
The market for poetry is probably smaller than the number of poets in the world. Yet more and more people gladly join the ranks every year, spending their precious time penning a musical verse. To some there is no greater pleasure than the joy of reading and writing an ecstatic poem. There is something so deeply edifying about poetry that it makes up for all the troubles and the poor monetary rewards it offers.
Reading a good poem can be equally rewarding; it is like feeling every little cell in your body vibrate and respond to the import of the words. Emily Dickinson herself described reading a good poem as, “If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry. These are the only way I know it. Is there any other way?” (Emily Dickinson: An Overview)
But Poetry is less about “What” and more about “How”. Often a good poem is not about what it says but how it says it. Take for example Ted Kooser’s, “Four civil war paintings by Winslow Homer”. It is not the subject matter of the poems but the way that Ted Kooser describes the paintings that makes all the difference. He could very well be actually painting the picture himself in front of your eyes with his masterful brush. For instance in the poem, “Sharpshooter” which is the first of the series of four poems, Ted talks about the shooter “waiting” with his “finger as light as a breath” on the trigger ready to shoot. The poem starts with, “Some part of art is the art of waiting”, clearly making an analogy between the poetry and the art of shooting. The shooter waiting for the perfect aim is in direct comparison to the poet waiting for the inspiration to pen his poem. It is within these precious few moments of waiting; that the poet concludes a journey of creation and the shooter makes a perfect kill.
Is the fulfillment derived from this short albeit soul searching journey that makes most poets go back to the tedious task of writing poetry?
Poetry like all forms of writing requires a certain element of pride and stubbornness. Pride because as a writer you want to believe that what you have to say matters and that nobody else in this world has said exactly what you are going to say in precisely the same way. It also requires a certain level of stubbornness. Stubbornness because you need to continue writing, no matter how little recognition or approbation you may receive. It requires an almost die-hard resilience to want to wake up early or stay up late to dip the nib of your brain in the ink of poetry.
Take for instance Emily Dickinson; one of the most celebrated American poets of all times only published about less than a dozen poems during her lifetime. And yet she composed nearly 1800 poems. Likewise Henry David Thoreau, Allen Edgar Poe and many others did not receive much acclaim and recognition until after their death. Not receiving acclaim did not prevent them from being true to their work. And what if they did get credit for their work? Would it truly have made any difference to their work? Poetry even today is not a well-paid art. It is one of those forms of arts that must be undertaken simply as a labor of love.
The thing about poetry is that there is no “right” way to writing poetry, although there are some rather easy to follow “wrong” ways. Poetry much like all other arts has its techniques that you can follow or chose to ignore and still write extremely good or bad poems. And although practitioners claim it is an art that can be learned, the end result can only depend upon one’s inherent talent and the time one is able to invest.
Poetry is all about honesty. The best poems may not be autobiographical or the absolute truth, or even convey a novel idea, but they almost always convey the subject matter in the most beautiful, musical and honest fashion. Emily Dickinson, once said,
“Tell all the truth but tell it slant.”
Tea leaves settled at the bottom of a crystal glass
portending uncertain future with certainty.
To believe or not to believe
was never the question.
For is it not against the grain of faith to question?
Symbols of pilgrimage strewn like dried bougainvillea
in my garden. An oracle worth of signs on every junction.
Some that we missed, some that led us back home,
and some that are calling our names with their plump siren lips.
Mirror; is the soul of the world.
Why else would it bring the best in us all?
Your sexiest smile, the twinkle in your eye, the boyish grin
that gets people to let their guards down.
Even the old freckled librarian who deals with books all day
but never finds time to read them,
Or the driver who drives his yellow taxi all over town
and then takes his 1990 Chevy back home,
Or the old balding meat seller who carves the finest slices of turkey
and then goes home to his mother’s basement
for mashed potatoes and green beans,
They all find time to practice their finest smiles in front of the
souls hanging over their medicine cabinets.
Faith is a glass of warm milk
that never lets you sleep empty stomach.
It’s the promise that never fails;
the regal lager yet to be uncorked.
No monocled palmist settled into a chair for $10 a reading on Venice beach
can foretell a future more glowing than the one that brews in your heart.
You know tomorrow is the day you have waited for since yesterday.
Yet once more, the tea leaves have settled
into a mosaic of promise to a world made up of smoke and mirrors.
Most of us meander through life without ever really asking this question. We let life lead us where it will. Yet there are a few enlightened individuals amongst us, who not only know what they want but they know that no amount of material wealth and comfort will quench their thirst for knowledge and truth. Such people are in search of truth of the highest order. Henry David Thoreau (July 12, 1817 – May 6, 1862) was one such person; an American author, poet, philosopher and an activist. He is best known for his book Walden a reflection on back to the basics ideology which he promoted throughout his life.
Walden Pond is a scenic and peaceful lake in Concord, Massachusetts said to have been formed by retreating glaciers thousands of years ago. Every time, I visit this lake, I revel in the secret hope that I am probably walking the same path, breathing the same air, and feasting my eyes on the same beauty that once made Thoreau fall in love. “Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads”, said Thoreau of Walden Pond.
Thoreau needed to concentrate on his writing which is why he decided to embark on a two year and two month experiment at “simple living” near Walden Pond in the summer of 1845. An account which Thoreau records extensively in his book “Walden, Life in the woods”. He believed that truth can be found in literature or in nature. He himself obtained pleasures as much in the ringing of the church bells as in the hooting of the owls or the croaking of the frogs. In his book, Thoreau mentions he took to the woods because he wanted a life away from social obligations and social relationships that “mail (or post office)” represent. I cannot help but wonder what he would say if he were to visit our lives today where a cellphone has almost become a part of human anatomy? Or what would he have to say to us all who happily over dose on social media and the World Wide Web on a daily basis but never find a moment for introspection or self-reflection?
Thoreau persisted in simplifying his life and believed inner peace and contentment cannot be found in material goods. The replica of the wooden cabin where he spared himself the most basic of amenities to sustain human life is testimony to his simple life. Although today his book is considered to be a signature book on the preservationist way of life, in its day it only sold about 2000 copies in five years. Today we know Thoreau as one of the foremost American writers famous for his prose, style and views on nature and politics. His views on politics and especially his philosophy of civil disobedience was said to have influenced and inspired notable figures such as Leo Tolstoy, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King.
In his book Walden, Thoreau mentions, “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”
He then continues to explain exactly what he truly wanted out of life with these super charged words,
“I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience.”
I can’t help but feel charged by these powerful words of a man who truly wanted nothing less than the absolute truth and was willing to pay a price for it. What is truly impressive about great human beings like Thoreau is not simply the depth and honesty of their beliefs but the courage and conviction to follow their dreams no matter where it may take them.
Thoreau in his own words said,
“I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”
Walden: Or, Life in the Woods (Above Quote Courtesy of: https://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/2361393-walden)