‘Why should we all use our creative power …? Because there is nothing that makes people so generous, joyful, lively, bold, and compassionate, so indifferent to fighting and the accumulation of objects and money.’ Brenda Ueland
Creativity is a state of natural flow at the convergence of imagination, knowledge, perception, and insight. It is a fundamental component in our writing lives, undergirding our productivity and experimentation. As poets we’ve all been within this flow or blocked from it at some time. As a vital element in the production of our poetry, the nature of creativity, its expression or truncation, is the focal point of this week’s Meeting the Bar. Welcome poets, I’m Anna Montgomery, and I’ll be your host today.
‘Inspiration may be a form of super-consciousness, or perhaps sub-consciousness – I wouldn’t know. But I am sure it’s the antithesis of self-consciousness.’ Aaron Copeland
Being in the flow of our creative processes allows us to escape the self temporarily immersing us in divergent thinking, that fluid intelligence, that takes us beyond convergent production. Convergent production aims for a single, correct solution to a defined problem. This limited view can restrict our ability to engage creativity. However, in a state of divergent thinking the generation of multiple answers, brainstorming or daydreaming, the brain becomes a conduit to new ideas and art-making in its myriad forms. There is no correct answer in poetry; it requires the interplay of imagination and artistic tools to involve the reader. These solutions are best achieved through creativity not formulas.
‘The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the objects it loves.’ Carl Jung
I prove a theorem and the house expands:
the windows jerk free to hover near the ceiling,
the ceiling floats away with a sigh.
As the walls clear themselves of everything
but transparency, the scent of carnations
leaves with them. I am out in the open
And above the windows have hinged into butterflies,
sunlight glinting where they’ve intersected.
They are going to some point true and unproven.
How we perceive input from our environment isn’t simply a product of the data our sense organs transmit to the brain but how our brain processes that information. New research in neuroscience is illuminating our brain’s need to develop new neural pathways in order to break out of the cycle of past experience that often leads us to shortcut to the familiar, well-worn paths of thought patterns that allow our minds to be efficient at processing perception. Experimentation and exploration allow us to create these new pathways. Additionally any novel stimulus (new information, an unfamiliar environment, or interactions with strangers) will allow you to reconfigure your neural networks. When we use imagination to go beyond our perception we participate in novelty, innovation, and creative problem solving.
I reserve my rights to multiplicity
to vagaries involving philosophy
an impulse toward exploration
liberalities of thought
Because, despite the ever present pressure
to decide, act, take sides
I am still learning what it is to live
a good, whole, engaged, and actualized life.
If sometimes, you find me, like a puppy
chewing on a new toy –
Let me get the feel of it
before yelling that I’ve slobbered
on something important.
‘The French phenomenologist Gaston Bachelard speaks of a ‘dreaming consciousness’ and calls poetic reverie a ‘phenomenology of the soul,’ a condition in which ‘the mind is able to relax, but . . . the soul keeps watch, with no tension, calmed and active.’ From To Make a Prairie by Rita Dove
Creative U-turns are failures of nerve, timing, or initiative. Moments or times when we didn’t champion our creativity but aborted, abandoned, savaged, or sabotaged our brain-children. Maybe they were triggered by rejection, unkindness, or our own insecurities. Often we weren’t ready for the leap forward they would represent (publication, publicity, or some form of success). The stakes were high and we choked but the good news is often these brain-children can be rescued when we treat ourselves with compassion.
‘Man is not free to refuse to do the thing that gives him more pleasure than any other conceivable action.’ Stendhal
Today I’d like you to think about a time when you’ve experienced or championed the immersion of creative flow; the agony, disappointment, or rejuvenation of a creative U-turn; how you incubate new ideas or divergent thinking; or examine creativity as a subject in your poem. Perhaps you believe in a muse, a methodology, or an artistic path. Maybe, like me, you enjoy exploring the scientific breakthroughs in the neuroscience of creativity. Whatever your angle of entry, please take your love of poetry and the fascinating processes of your own mind and join us in investigating creativity!
Additional Resources: Neuroscience Sheds New Light on Creativity; The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron; One Continuous Mistake: Four Noble Truths for Writers by Gail Sher; Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury; If You Want to Write by Brenda Ueland.
• Write your poem, post it to your blog and copy the direct link of your URL and paste it, along with your name, in the Mr. Linky at the bottom of this post.
• Engage in community building, a primary principle here at the pub, by investigating the work of others, reading and commenting. One of the best ways to become a better poet is to read and reflect on the work of your peers. Please provide positive, constructive feedback and appreciation. It’s how we show respect for one another at the pub.
• Share your work and that of others on your social networks. Encourage other poets to join us here at the pub.