For some reason, poetry has been branded as a soft word. It conjurs images of flowers and dreamy eyed high schoolers scrawling love letters on MEAD lined notebook paper.
But poetry is vital.
Poetry is the ability to use the written word to move people.
Poetry is not just the hoity-toity stuff of nursery rhymes. That is poetry for children.
Poetry is any combination of words that make you feel deeply.
Martin Luther King was a poet. So was Mohammed Ali. The Beatles were a poet collective. Steve Jobs was the poet laureate of Business and Technology.
Most people steer clear of attempting to use poetry in their daily lives, opting instead to speak in borrowed cliches from boardrooms and TV.
The ones who let their poetic muse run wild, change things.
Poetry can of course inform great art. it can translate into classic novels and film. It can power a punk band into the cultural zeitgeist. But it can also give complicated corporations, souls. Poetry can be used to elevate commercial messages into things that people care and feel about deeply. Why not fill all that air time with poetry and art instead of meaningless dancing animals.
Poetry gives people the power to feel.
If the emotions are real, and people can feel better and more deeply, can we really vilify a corporation for dabbling in poetry. For trying to put some good vibes into the world as they go about their business. Or is it more akin to a king commissioning a painting in the 1500s. On the surface, these are business transactions, but it is the art and poetry that endures.
All sides can win when you choose poetry.
The enemy of the status quo. That actively challenges normal with radical language.
Poetry refuses to repeat what it’s told. It finds a new way to say things.
Poetry can be a war cry, a riddle, a pop song, a locker room speech, a political manifesto, a love letter.
Poetry can exist anywhere humans gather.
Be it in a beat inspired coffee house, or around the television in the living room.
You can bring more poetry into whatever format or platform you have access to.
Choosing poetry is making the conscious decision to be interesting and try to make people feel more.
Don’t tell them what they know, describe what they feel or could feel, in a way they couldn’t say themselves.
That is the gift of poetry.Tweet
By Oyl Miller. 2012.
When you consider a thing,
Jack Kerouac. By Oyl Miller.
Comes standard with the hipster starter kit.
Write until you surprise yourself.
— Kurt Vonnegut
No one in the world looks at things exactly how you do. Your perspective is the most valuable thing you have to offer. Make it your weapon. Learn to channel it on command. Sharpen it. Practice with it. And be always ready. The amount of things you can say is infinite. And no one will ever put them exactly how you do. If you aren’t using your point of view right now, it’s a waste. But the good news is, any second is a great time to start. Once you start putting your point of view into words, you will build momentum. You will find new things to say. Things that surprise yourself. Things that maybe could inspire some one else. You will make connections that no one has ever seen before. Your point of view is magical. Your point of view is the manifestation of the life you live and the thoughts you think. So go ahead, use your point of view, put your active thoughts in writing. People want to hear what only you could say.Tweet
Voice is the ability to channel your personality into writing.
If you are reading something, and it feels like someone is talking to you. That is voice. Basically the writing has to make you feel something. Does it make you laugh? Does it make you feel passionate? Does it anger you? Inspire you? If you are ‘moved’ by a piece of writing, then it contains the author’s voice. Mission accomplished.
Writers do all kinds of things to suffocate their own voice. They try to sound intellectual. They write in a way that would impress their 10th grade English teacher. They try to use bigger words than are necessary. They fall prey to a variety of tempting hacks that prevent them from putting their words down naturally. If you write to please someone else, no one will feel your voice. It will seal your words in an irrelevant vacuum.
Voice is letting your personality flow. There are no rules to establishing your voice, because everyone has one that belongs only to them. It’s not about swearing a lot, or talking like a gangster, or trying to write like a character in a film you love. That will only lead to imitation. There are things only you would say. Things only you would think of and topics only you would connect. I cannot tell you what those combinations are. Neither could your tenth grade English teacher. The only person who can unlock your voice is you. And the only way to do it is to write constantly.
One reason I love to read a diversity of writers is that it let’s me know just how many damn voices are out there. The more I read, the more I believe in the power of voice, and the more I trust that I have a unique voice of my own. When you write with the confidence that you are being demonstratively you, your voice will spill out. It will be uncontainable. Keep doing it. Your voice will get you heard. Your voice, your unique ability to make people feel something with your personality is the most powerful gift you have.
(Originally published by McSweeney’s Internet Tendency:) What was that out there? You call that a circle? It looked more like a soggy donut dipped in weak, watery coffee from some generic New England diner with abrasive neon lighting like they have at the DMV. Is that what you want to evoke with your painting? Because that is what people will see. You’ve gotta want that circle. You’ve gotta commit to the circle. You’ve gotta bare your soul for that circle! We’ve traced ‘em a thousand times in practice, and here we are at your live art show, and you’re absolutely choking.
(Originally published by McSweeney’s Internet Tendency:)
What was that out there? You call that a circle? It looked more like a soggy donut dipped in weak, watery coffee from some generic New England diner with abrasive neon lighting like they have at the DMV. Is that what you want to evoke with your painting? Because that is what people will see. You’ve gotta want that circle. You’ve gotta commit to the circle. You’ve gotta bare your soul for that circle! We’ve traced ‘em a thousand times in practice, and here we are at your live art show, and you’re absolutely choking.Your abstract paintings are a disgrace! I know they aren’t supposed to depict identifiable subject matter, but you’ve gotta convey something with your work!! Emotion, repressed memories, a political viewpoint. A childhood fantasy that got crushed like that Christmas when you thought you were getting a Teddy Ruckspin, but your sister got one instead. Look at your work, you’re just throwing paint around. Disrespect that canvas! Be rude to art history! Don’t listen to a word I say! That was a joke. But seriously, I’ve seen more expression in an Excel sheet than I see in your abstract paintings. There is no purpose to your blotches. No verve in your splatter. No virtuosity in your drips. You are a blurry, pixelated approximation of Pollack. You make a mockery of the proud tradition of action art.
What the hell are these still lives? You’re just going through the motions with your painting, kid! These are high school level art class toss offs. You wanna make it to the kind of cutting edge galleries whose walls are bare and only open to B-list celebrities on Tuesdays at three in the morning? You think a smudgy pastel rendering of an inoffensive, submissive, realistically colored little peach is your ticket there? What if it were rotten? What it if had a deformed arm sticking out of it? What if it had dinosaur fangs that represented capitalist desire? These are exactly the kinds of thoughts real artists think. Do you even think? You need point of view in your work rookie. The artwork needs to drip with your disturbing vision.
This is the worst line work I’ve seen in thirty years of coaching artists. You’re phoning this sketch in rook!! Where is the desire in your cross hatching? Where is the emotion and the guts in your shading? You’re like a robot sitting in front of a sketch book. I’d expect better cross hatching from R2-D2. I want to see some innovation and some signature moves in your style. How are you gonna differentiate yourself from all the other artists crammed beneath the crust of the art world you’ll be competing with for wall space. You gotta get hungry in this post-modern, minimally styled artist loft you’ve paid three grand a week to rent out and listen to my comments in!!!
Why are you laughing? Do you find something amusing in that ill-conceived cartoon of a bird? Do you think putting a beak on a businessman makes you the next Parra? This is a New Yorker wanna be. You’ve gotta draw differently if you want to turn your illustrations into a globally viable and self-sustaining brand. People have to think there is something wrong with you. If you want your cartoons featured in Juxtapose magazine and find your pithy, pedestrian illustrated type on the pages of FFFFOUND, you gotta get crazier. This is just lazy sketching. Don’t bother scanning that shit in and adding color separations in Illustrator. In fact, I’ll rip that page out right now…
Are you mocking my art coaching by smearing some coffee over your colored pencil rendering? Since when did this artist retreat ever stand for haphazard mixed media compositions? Is that something you read about us in our brochure? That’s a trick question! We’d never have a brochure. You’ve gotta shift your mind kiddo. Making these fanciful, typical collages in your notebooks may have earned you creative credibility in high school with the goth crowd. But I assure you, this tranquil space of kindred artists will not tolerate these random acts of artistry. We build sharp, hungry, flesh-eating (or appropriate vegan metaphor) artists here. Were not an artist colony of dabblers. We commit to our canvases and sketchbooks in a way that is meant to scare our contemporaries and our rival artist retreats. We’re in the business of training cult leaders here.
You are not Banksy. You are not even WK-Interact. I don’t care how many pop culture references you scan into your little MacBook Air and rasterize in Illustrator with a grungy photocopier filter over it. Your social commentary isn’t biting or sharp enough to use the language of street art as your vehicle. You don’t take risks with your work. You scan conservatively. You use the Adobe Creative Suite like you’re still following the tutorials.
I can’t take this anymore. You have five hours to create the next game-changing art movement. I’m gonna go find some inspiration on Tumblr.Tweet