Monday Challenge: Beguiling Poetry

Poems are beguiling works of art. Good poets will never write that they were sad and cried buckets or were happy and skipped their way to work. For instance take a look at this second stanza (by Algernon Charles Swinburne describing “sorrow”).

“One thought lies close in her heart gnawn thorough
With pain, a weed in a dried-up river,
A rust-red share in an empty furrow.”

He never uses the word sorrow or tears and yet makes you connect with the character in his poem immediately. You can feel her pain and partake in the sleeplessness of the night. Poets rarely talk about things as they are because they use the power of a metaphor to ignite the human imagination and paint a crafty picture of intrigue.

For today’s challenge use a metaphor to describe your true emotions. For this challenge look at your room and take note of any thing that stands out: book shelf, painting, book, cell phone and use a metaphor to describe it. Keep describing it with a metaphor until you think you have painted a perfect picture of the object you are talking about. For e.g. the pen is like an arrow that bleeds its blue blood, or your dirty socks are like dark caves that lead to nowhere. Let nothing stop you, no matter how unbelievable it sounds. You can always take a second or third pass at your poem to make some final much needed edits, but for now let your imagination flow. If you do participate send me your poem with your full name in the comments below or pingback to me using the “Edit/Link icon” in your own post.

To get your creative juices flowing I am sharing a poem by Ted Kooser one of my favorite poets.

A box of Pastels
Continue reading “Monday Challenge: Beguiling Poetry”

Why do you Blog?

So why do you blog? Clearly, blogging takes a lot of time, effort and persistence. Is blogging worth the huge investment of time and effort?

Your answer may be similar to one of the answers below, or it may be different (in which cases please enlighten me in the comments section)

  • I blog to share my ideas with the world
  • I blog to improve and hone my writing skills
  • I blog to connect with other people who have similar interests
  • I blog because ultimately I want to be a writer
  • I blog to help others
  • I blog to share my story

On the outset we may all have our own reason to blog: need to connect, to be heard, to share, to become famous, to help and so forth. But at the very core we are all doing the same thing; we are sharing a story.

The rules of existence are preemptively the same for everyone irrespective of race, nationality, class, gender and so forth.  The progression of life from womb to tomb is universal as are the laws of nature except perhaps in the “Curious case of Benjamin Buttons”.

Our experiences are much about similar things and events in life such as birth, youth, love, marriage, divorce, childhood and even death. What makes these experiences different is not the event but our perspective to it. Our ability to view the world differently and color it with our own unique perspective is what makes our stories exciting.

Given below are some pictures I took, of the beautiful ruins in Hampi (a village in northern Karnataka), India. Shown alongside the untouched original picture, is its altered, enhanced version. I cropped some of these pictures and used Adobe Photoshop CS3 to enhance the color. It was enough to give these old ruins a story of their own.

Haveli_original Haveli_touchedup Temple1 Temple_touchedup CrownofTemple1 CrownofTemple2

Hampi1 Hampi2

As bloggers not only do we share a story but we are unwittingly leaving our own footprint behind for our generations to come. Never before have so many people been as actively involved in creating information and building history as they are today. In the olden days, writing was considered the domain of the blessed few. This is probably the single biggest reason, why historians have such a tough time, putting together the story of the common man. The ancient historians, writers and poets were paid by the purse of the rulers and the rich merchants. So their art catered to that of the rich and the famous not the common man.

Today, social media is changing not only how information is created and shared but paving the way for how information will be created and consumed in the future. When “Breaking news” happens in the nooks and corners of the world, within a few minutes’ personal stories and pictures start flooding in not from actual reporters but the common people who witnessed it. This is a powerful phenomenon.

News is no longer created just by the reporters working for news agencies such as BBC, CNN, Fox, NBC, Reuters etc. but the billions of eyes and ears that experience these events first hand. These stories are far more exciting, because they have the element of human touch that we can relate to and be moved by. The power to create news and literature is no longer the prerogative of a handful of elitist historians and writers. It is now shared equally with the common man and woman; us the bloggers!

Blogging, is also strengthening the ideals and values that our country holds dear; Freedom of speech and Democracy. Never before could a Josh Moe question the Government, or challenge accepted norms, raise a controversy or even overturn a dictatorial regime. Never before could one reach out to so many people at such a grand scale.

Today, blogging and tweeting have given the common man a loud voice. We don’t have to be famous artists, writers and poets to share our own personal story. We just have to blog.

Fast forward a few hundred years from now, historians then, will have no problem reassembling our lives thanks to the testimonies and stories left by all of us on the blogosphere. So coming back to our original question, why do you blog?

I want to turn the question back to you dear fellow blogger? I look forward to hearing your perspective?

Here is a Ted video where Mena Trott “the founding mother of blogging revolution” explains about why she blogs.

Inspired by Daily Post

An egocentric view of Art and Life

U Be Cute is barely a month old, and I am already fully “sucked-in” as a blogger. I confess that means visiting my blog 25 times a day just to check if I got a new ‘like’ and or a ‘comment’. Which is sad, because I barely get about 5 ‘likes’ a day (if I am lucky), which is only a 20% rate of return on my obsessive labors. Yet, something about the little “call-out” button turning orange, sets my heart fluttering (especially since it happens so rarely). This is a feeling only other debutante bloggers such as myself will appreciate.

Likes & Comments

If you are one of those bloggers who gets 50 or more ‘likes’ on one Post alone, then you are way beyond fully appreciating that first lonely “like” that can completely transform your day. I feel like Meg Ryan (Aka ‘shopgirl’) in “You’ve Got Mail” who gets elated every time she sees an email from Tom Hanks (“NY151”). For those of you born in or after 1990, ignore that analogy, this movie is prehistoric for you.

My new obsession with getting “likes”, stems from the fact that all through my growing years; I was never hugely popular.  And by “hugely popular” I really mean “remotely popular”. I still only have a few close friends, with emphasis being on “few”, who somehow have the heart to stay friends, despite my many incoherent egocentric ramblings about how “I perceive the world” or “What I think”.

Egocentric ramblings…Does that make me an egocentric? Sure.

The truth is all human beings are egocentric to some degree.  Yes even YOU.

Despite the negative connotations around the word, “egocentrism” is not entirely an undesirable trait. Egocentrism allows us the privilege to perceive the world as we do, and to believe our perception is correct. In that respect all artists are essentially egocentric. Art in its simplest form is nothing if not an expression of how one perceives the world.

Art in all its forms; painting, sculpture, photography, prose, poetry is an exhibition of “life” not “as it is” but “as perceived” by the artist. The mere process of capturing life in some ways colors it.

For example, ask a bunch of students to photograph an object say: a fruit basket. It is very likely that every student will present the artwork differently, possibly adding different angles, colors, effects, lighting and so forth, so much so that in the end, what you see is not the fruit basket but the author’s perception of the fruit basket. This difference is only more enhanced if the students are to hand draw the objects.

Given below are some pictures I took of the same object, but changed the angle, focus, exposure slightly. The result is that the same inanimate object can appear so different, giving the viewer an altered experience of the object. May it be noted, that I am deliberately using photographs not hand drawn paintings, since photography is said to capture reality more closely than paintings. The central premise of this experiment is to prove that even a slight change of angle, focus by even a debutante photographer (myself) can make a big difference to how the same object is presented.

Is art necessarily beautiful or perfect? While a lot of people believe that art is a celebration of beauty, I disagree. Art is an imitation of life and life is neither beautiful nor perfect, it just is. What makes Art so unique is that it is innately flawed. Art is flawed because it imitates life which is full of flaws and also because the eyes that perceive it retain their own version of reality (which to some degree is less than reality).

The reason why Art is unique, interesting and timeless is not because it is a perfect imitation of life but because it is an egocentric perception of life by the author and in that it is both unique and flawed.

For how else how can commonplace topics such as love, jealousy, marriage, fear, pain still be the centrifugal themes of literature, despite having been talked about for centuries? The reason being, that every single author took the same theme but presented it in a different color, angle, context and light thus offering it unique and still relevant.

Writing is less about how it makes “you” the reader feel and more about how it makes “me” the writer feel. Just as creating Art is a personal experience, so also is enjoying Art a very personal experience. Which is why, different people analyse the same piece of literature differently. It does not matter what the true intent of the writer was. As long as Art causes one to think and question why things are the way they are, and what if they were different?

To me, there isn’t a single photograph or piece of work that is not artistic. If it was created by a human then the element of “perception” and “flaw” should automatically make it artistic to some degree.

What then makes certain pieces of artwork so different from the rest? Masterpieces such as Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment are definitely beautiful and profound in any language. I read the English version of the book (originally written in Russian) and cried at every single page, and still wondered how much was lost in the translation alone. Classic works of Fiction such as Emily Bronte’s, “Wuthering Heights” is as romantic today as it was when first published in 1847.  Or the unforgettable childhood that Maggie and Tom Tulliver share in “Mill in the Floss” by George Eliot is still the best testament to childhood and sibling love and rivalry today, as it was in 1860. These are just a few of the many examples to prove that while times will change, human emotions such as fear, pain, love and jealousy are and will always remain relevant as will the writer’s perceptions.

To me a well written piece of prose or poetry is like a necklace; pearl like words strung together by the central theme joined by a clasp where the beginning meets the end. Although a good piece of prose or poetry is meant to provoke deep emotions, questions, or tug at the core of one’s being, above all it is meant to simply allow the egocentric writer a channel to express. As for me just the sheer joy of seeing the little “call-out” button turn orange is incentive enough to burn the midnight oil.

Happy One month Birthday, U be Cute!