“Letters to a Young Poet” [Part XX of XXIX]

rainer maria rilke letters to a young poet COVER

“Letters to a Young Poet”

by Rainer Maria Rilke

Part XX of XXIX

Post by Jennifer Kiley

Post Sunday 3rd May 2015

RILKE Painting blond

(20th week)

“Let your
have their own
undisturbed development,
which must,
like all progress,
come from deep
and cannot
in any way
be pressed

1 home large photo

One of Rainer Maria Rilke’s Homes

Dvorak, New World Symphony – 2nd Mvt Part 2,

Dublin Philharmonic, Conductor Derek Gleeson

* * * * * * *

“Shall I compare thee…?”


Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed,
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course untrimmed:
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st,
Nor shall death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st,
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

—William Shakespeare, Sonnet XVIII

forest-trees-green-paradise summer

Forest Trees Green Paradise of Summer


“Updating Philosophies”

“Updating Philosophies” from Navigate

Process is fascinating. There is an art to the way that things are made. Oftentimes we find ourselves so enraptured by a work of art that a form of mysticism envelops the creator. In our society this has become something worth idolizing, something artists feel the need to aspire to.

Well, we’re not interested in myth. We’re interested in people. In actual people who have incredible talents and the hard work they put in to achieve their results.

Often this secretive artistic path is put on a pedestal. We would like to offer something different to admire: the realistic struggle through which people can create great things.

Expression is difficult. It is of our belief that true greatness comes from vulnerability. The honesty that lies within the creative process provides us with empowering perspectives. To know the challenges faced by an artist and the fortitude needed to overcome them is to celebrate the human spirit.

Cern is an artist living and working in Brooklyn, New York. His ideas are expressed in many artistic forms, including murals, which can be found in major cities all over the world.

Twitter: @cernymi
Instagram: @cernesto

Editor’s Corner 101.26

The Writer’s Voice – Rise Up and Sing!

All I have is a voice.

When I started writing the Editor’s Corner, discussing voice seemed a logical springboard for all posts to come. But I put it off. And off. And, as the weeks went by, I found voice harder and harder to talk about. It was just not the naturally incipient topic I expected it to be.

Now, well along the editor’s path – and lest I paint myself irrevocably into my editor’s corner – the time has come to let voice arise in clarion clarity!

1 find-your-voice-flair-set

So, what is voice? Simply put, voice is an author’s distinctive style. It includes everything from vocabulary to syntax, punctuation to rhythm, subject to structure. It is the quality that, sans book cover or title page, tells the savvy bibliophile that they’re perusing Toni Morrison not Isabel Allende, C.S. Lewis not Terry Pratchett. (Just imagine James Joyce penning Wuthering Heights or Carson McCullers Madame Bovary. How very different they would be!)

2 stack of old books

On a certain level, every writer, by virtue of setting pen to paper, has a voice. Personally, I think that is akin to saying that every kid who kicks a soccer ball can bend it like Beckham. In this e-book age when everyone and their second-cousin, Sylvester, is in print, the market is awash in a tsunami of cookie-cutter books, with virtually interchangeable characters and plot points and a dearth of unique voices. In short, people are telling stories, but not necessarily telling their stories. Individual voice is lost much the way accents are lost in the press to use stage English.

3 abstract salvador dali books inkwell naked man w skull

Now, some people suggest that voice is a teachable thing. To this end, they often propose an empirical approach, especially for young writers: toss different styles and genres at the page and see what sticks. While experimentation certainly has a place in any artist’s development, I believe in this case, it is, at best, a starting point at the beginning of a long and mysterious journey. But, hey, what do I know?

4 temptation-of-st-anthony-dali-1946  horse elephants on stilt legs

For me, voice is less a matter of trial and error and more one of authorial evolution. Word after word, sentence after sentence, we writers make choices based on our background, experience, knowledge, passions, even gender. (Don’t get me started on the role gender plays! If you can’t tell if a writer is male or female, chances are you’re not paying attention.) The cumulative effect of those choices adds up to our voice. Granted, when first embarking on a literary calling, those choices tend to the predictable and inside the box. We follow the rules, perhaps emulate our favorite scribes or the voix du jour on the bestseller lists. This is off-the-rack, at best. It serves well enough while learning our craft, but eventually – hopefully – it is shed for a proper Savile Row voice, tailored to you alone. Don’t expect this to happen over night. It takes time and effort to dig deep inside and find sounds and rhythms uniquely one’s own. You have to listen hard, to find that which resonates with the stories you have to tell.

5 you write so beautifully  typed out

Of course, you may be writing in trim morning coat and Ascot, when the current fashion is denim and tees. A collision with the editing/publishing world could be just around the corner. If an editor or publisher wants to rewrite your work so it is just like every other manuscript out there, listen very politely, thank them for their time, and run. Run fast and far. An editor should be helping you strengthen, clarify, and realize your voice, not tamp it into an unrecognizable whisper. (I have this on good authority from the Editor Faërie, and I trust her implicitly.)

6 dali-bacchanale-reproduction

Voice is not about giving others what they want to hear; it’s about making them listen with to what you have to say.

It’s about finding the language of your passion and claiming it against all comers.

Sing out!
I will try to respond to messages as I am able. At times it may be in the form of a post or a direct email response. Guests who post, I will forward messages addressed to them. It is up to them how they decide to correspond.   — Shawn MacKENZIE – MacKenzie’s Dragonsnest

“In my letters to her…”

“April ended and May came along, but May was even worse than April. In the deepening spring of May, I had no choice but to recognize the trembling of my heart. It usually happened as the sun was going down. In the pale evening gloom, when the soft fragrance of magnolias hung in the air, my heart would swell without warning, and tremble, and lurch with a stab of pain. I would try clamping my eyes shut and gritting my teeth, and wait for it to pass. And it would pass….but slowly, taking its own time, and leaving a dull ache behind.

At those times I would write… In my letters to her, I would describe only things that were touching or pleasant or beautiful: the fragrance of grasses, the caress of a spring breeze, the light of the moon, a movie I’d seen, a song I liked, a book that had moved me. I myself would be comforted by letters like this when I would reread what I had written. And I would feel that the world I lived in was a wonderful one. I wrote any number of letters like this…”

― Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood

light thru trees