Thursday, March 10, 2011

Don't Piss it Away

chess castle

The last speaker of the IAM Encounter weekend was Dana Gioia. I've tried to read his poetry before and enjoy it, to no avail. But when he gave voice to it himself, I was quite taken. It made me glad that I'd at least purchased his book Can Poetry Matter? before the bookstore had packed up and disappeared.

And I have to say that it is Gioia's particular words, "don't piss it away," that have stuck with me. Imagine, a whole conference come to that simple conclusion.

For me, the conference had been going in a distinct direction: beauty, which I'd recently suggested might be my point of activism.

This is perhaps a "soft" thing that isn't always seen as important for business and success. Yet I'm coming to see it as absolutely essential. Because without beauty, we are droids or zombies or maybe remote-control cars— capable of power and activity in their way, but probably not transformative in the true sense of the word.

Some of the beauty that lives inside me has yet to be given voice. I felt that keenly after this conference. Some of the beauty that lives inside me simply needs to be owned and defended. And some of it is yet to be discovered.

How about you? What is still waiting to be given voice, owned, or discovered? Gioia has four simple words for you and me: don't piss it away.

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Blogger Maureen said...

I think it's so interesting that Gioia still uses the word "Can" instead of "Does" in the title of his book. The origins of that go all the way back to 1991, when he had an essay of the same title in Atlantic Monthly. That he's spun that into book-length makes me wonder what more he has to say. It's a question I wish were not asked, that would not be asked in a society that valued all arts, that took it for granted that poetry and painting and music matter and that it's our loss when we treat them as though they do not.

I've looked at the contents of his book and have not bought it because his essays mostly seem to be perspectives on or about men who were or are poets. Also, I think there are far better "regional" poets than Ted Kooser, who merits a chapter.

6:28 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

It's funny that I originally remembered the title as "Does" and then had to correct it. :) The book is 9 years old, so maybe that is part of the issue?

I missed that about male poets, but I'm enjoying the book so far anyway. Mostly I think I just want to read about poetry, so I'm open to whoever wants to say something about it. :)

Any essay books about poetry that you'd recommend?

7:31 PM  
Blogger Louise Gallagher said...

I just like the idea of not pissing it away as being a great way to live!

12:31 AM  
Blogger David Rupert said...

While it's a little crass coming from a little sass, I think it's a great way of saying, "dont squander the blessing'

9:58 AM  
Blogger TraciB said...

Your question about expressing beauty is such a timely one; in fact, I just blogged about it in an oblique way at Circular Praise.

This morning could have been a not-so-pretty one since I had to spend money I didn't actually have for new tires that I absolutely needed. Instead of dwelling on that unbeautiful fact, though, I was blessed to be able to revel in God's beauty while I waited for the car work to be done.

I know that's not precisely what you were asking about, but to me it still applies. :)

4:53 PM  
Anonymous Sandra Heska King said...

I don't think I'll soon forget this advice!

5:55 PM  
Blogger Kathleen Overby said...

Maureen, Isn't it great how all of our preferences differ. I like Ted Kooser! He's farmboy cozy to me. :)

Laura, I have been struggling all month, miserable at my inability to fight injustice-to have a satisfying ending this certain ugly story-currently in my life.

Hence, I have been blocked and unfocused on creating beauty, as is my want. And I'm shriveling up.

If I continue to 'squander the blessing' as David says, it is a lose/lose situation. Thanks for slapping me so I'll remember to be a 'beauty activist'. I forgot.

9:27 PM  
Blogger Tolu said...

In business and success, I have always thought that "soft" things are indispensable as they breathe life, they give meaning to our activities, even our very existence. They are the only things capable of making "ordinary" encounters truly transformative. So why do we consistently "piss them away"?

I think each of us was born a gift to ourselves and the world. I do not completely know all I am endowed with and while I have the freedom to "piss it away", I really do not have a right to.

4:12 AM  

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