Saturday, September 18, 2010

Hands-on Learning

I learn about writing music by sitting at the piano with a 12-stave notebook and a pencil. Then I take that raw form to my computer, open up my Finale music program, fine-tune the math so that the notes fit in the measures, and voi-la! Music.

I learn a lot about writing fiction from reading fiction. Recently I read in The Family Orchard by Nomi Eve, that the etiology of the word fiction comes from the Latin “fingere,” which means “to form.” I like the thought of giving form to the stuff in my head and calling it fiction. So much more literary than calling it chaos, anarchy, absurdity, or any number of other descriptive words for what floats around up there.

I learn about poetry mostly from listening to my poet friends read their word pictures aloud. For me, poetry is also a way of giving form to thought, working with words to create imagery and emotion. It’s more personal; in fiction, you can say almost anything and ascribe it to someone else. In poetry, there’s not much hiding from the fact that these are the poet’s sentiments.

I’m concerned about the ecology of our planet, more so now that I have grand-babies, and therefore a greater attachment to the future beyond where I step aside. The poem below gives form to some of my more bleak ponderings.

The Night the Stars Go Out

We have used up the world.
The ancestors frown from above.
Orion’s Belt drops from the southern sky
And sinks with a thud onto the western horizon.
The Big Dipper runs dry of its celestial stew
Like a ladle in an abandoned soup kitchen.
The ancestors frown from above.
The night the stars go out
A dim smear of rouge like a whore’s makeup
At the end of a long night
Replaces the red planet of Mars in the darkened sky, and
The night owl cries “Why?” “Why?”
The ancestors frown from above.
The night the stars go out
The Seven Sisters die a virginal death in mass suicide;
The Milky Way turns to sand and rains a dark desert.
Scorpio, like an Ouroboros, turns on itself and consumes stinger and all.

1 comment:

  1. Whenever I get to hear one of your musical compositions I feel so blessed! Your music is magic and so is your fiction. I've carried some of your characters around in my heart and my mind for years now. They stick with me. They became real people. - Nancy