Saturday, August 17, 2013
One of my dearest friends died on this day, a decade ago, and in thinking of her and our relationship, this verse pops into my head:
"Life is mostly froth and bubble,
Two things stand like stone,
KINDNESS in another's trouble,
COURAGE in your own." (Adam Lindsay Gordon, Australian poet)
That verse from a much longer poem came to my attention via other memorable words, by one of my new favorite authors, Owen Egerton. Egerton quoted Gordon in his indelibly moving novel The Book of Harold: Illegitimate Son of God. Thus, memorable words give rise to other memorable words--and to images, ideas, and anything else born of artistic passion.
While reading those words aloud, I imagine a short film of the tide rolling in, leaving froth and bubbles on the shore--seen via a close up shot--and then rolling out to reveal two rocks protruding from the sand. Zooming in on the rocks, we see that each one bears an engraved word: one says KINDNESS, the other says COURAGE. Then a huge wave crashes over both, and the shot of the submerged rocks is drawn out, making the viewer wait for it, wait for it, wait for it--until the water again recedes, showing the engraved stones standing firmly where they were.
My mental movie shows how memorable words affect me. How do they affect you? How do they affect your own writing?
I aim to evoke mental movies in my readers. From the bottom of my computer screen, where I've minimized the document containing my current novel-in-progress, a voice now yells, "Rolling!" I need to get back on set. 'Bye-bye!
Sunday, August 5, 2012
I have recently started reading the works of Pema Chodron, a wise Buddhist teacher , and found poetic inspiration in a parable she wrote, titled "How To Defeat Fear." My poem, launched by Pema's wisdom, appears below:
By Susan L. Lipson
inspired by Pema Chodron’s parable “How To Defeat Fear”)
Preparing for battle,
She bowed to her opponent,
Avoiding his gaze.
He only nodded,
His eyes burning holes in her armor,
His stature seemed to dwarf her.
As she took deep breaths to prepare for her first strike,
He interrupted her: “Before you strike, are you sure you’re ready?
Is your armor thick enough? Are your weapons sharp enough?
Are you strong enough to defeat me?”
Stammering, “Yes!”, she raised her weapon,
Hastily sharpened it on the rough, gleaming rock of courage,
And flashed the point before him.
He laughed, “Try to destroy me! You’ll only miss your mark!”
She clenched her teeth and shut her eyes
As she thrust the spear forward,
Enabling him to block and deflect her strike with ease.
“Please,” she pleaded, “may I try again?”
He thanked her for asking, smirked, and nodded.
She examined her weapon,
Now damaged by his block,
And looked for the rock on which to re-sharpen it,
But the rock seemed to have disappeared,
And all she could hear was him chanting under his breath:
“Surrender…just give up…surrender…just give up…”
She cried, “Why should I?!”
To which he replied snidely, “Because I said so."
She hissed, “But why should I listen to you?!”
He raised one eyebrow…
And before he could retort, she met his gaze.
And he shrank before her.
So she could answer the question for herself.
The battle ended.