I think passion is one of the most important areas when it comes to the arts. Sure there is technique, ability, timing, subject matter, hard work, originality, variety...a million other things at stake but really...when it comes down to it I think that for me passion is somehow the key to everything. But then I would say that, I suppose...I'm a passionate kind of a person.
Recently I've been listening to one of the most passionate English poets, Adrian Mitchell (1932-2008) because I got a double CD of him reading/performing for my birthday back in January ('The Dogfather' - cover above). He is so great to listen to – funny, thoughtful and yet bursting with enthusiasm and love for his work and the world – and I really would recommend you search out the CD if you're a fan (you can buy it here).
I have written about Mitchell before (here) and in the last post I was quoting him from the CD in the comments (his answer to 'what is poetry' – 'truth with a backbeat'). As I went cruising online afterwards to check that he wasn't quoting someone else in turn I came across a great (and very passionate) interview with him (here). For those of you who haven't time or inclination to read the whole thing here are a couple of quotes from the late and very smashing Mr Adrian Mitchell:
“Poetry isn't really important, it's necessary”
(On reading poems aloud) “I want it (my voice) to be real. And I want it to use my own rhythms, my own speech rhythms, but I intensify them for poetry, and what I'm aiming at is somewhere between speaking and singing.”
“Poetry is a free country, a really free country: you've never been in such a free country.”
“When people ask me 'can I do this in a poem?' I say 'yes'.”
“You don't write for children in general because it doesn't work, there aren't any children in general. You don't write for adults in general, you write for your friends. Or your enemies, if you like. Write with somebody in mind. Because poetry is a gift, so the only point is to give it. I mean, just writing for yourself, well it may satisfy you, but it's no use to me or anyone else. Poetry is a gift so give it with open hands.”
There isn't much good Mitchell on youtube (just more and more versions of his most famous 'Tell me lies about Vietnam' poem 'To whom it may concern') but on his publisher Bloodaxe's site there are some video clips (here – scoot down to Mitchell...some other good stuff on the way down...). ADDED LATER here's a good page with links to Mitchell poems and audio versions.
All this makes me think that most of the blogs I come back to time and time again are ones where the writer has a passion (whether that be for poetry or nature or humour or films...or all of those things). Maybe next post I'll highlight a few of those passionate people.
Originally from the north of England, I live in Angus, Scotland where I walk a lot, think a lot, listen to lots of music, sometimes write poems, sometimes read poems out to other people, sometimes write songs, read all kinds of odd things, watch a bit...oh and I look after my family too.
I sometimes organise poetry and music events - details are usually here (though nothing coming up in the near future). This year I went travelling with my family - photos and notes are here. Now we're back I have moved to a new regular blog - it is here.
More about the song
You can buy my book (published 2008) from my website if you fancy it (go to 'book' page) or from www.amazon.co.uk if you prefer the comfort of the multinational corporation. My book is printed on recycled paper and card. I have 12 different poetry postcards available too.