Definition

One must make a distinction however: when dragged into prominence by half poets, the result is not poetry, nor till the autocrats among us can be “literalists of the imagination”—above insolence and triviality and can present for inspection, imaginary gardens with real toads in them, shall we have it.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Open Link Monday

Welcome to the Imaginary Garden ...


photo credit: BluePrince Architectural via photopin cc 

I came across a letter dated February 17, 1903, written by Rilke to a young poet seeking his evaluation of his several poems. I urge you to read it in its entirety HERE, as it has much to say to poets of any era. However, I will reproduce a few lines for those who do not have the time, with the urgency of a Monday, to read everything he wrote.


You ask whether your verses are any good. You ask me. You have asked others before this. You send them to magazines. You compare them with other poems, and you are upset when certain editors reject your work. Now (since you have said you want my advice) I beg you to stop doing that sort of thing. You are looking outside, and that is what you should most avoid right now. No one can advise or help you - no one. There is only one thing you should do. Go into yourself. Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write. This most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write? 

Thereafter, he gives many valuable suggestions as to how the young man could improve on his art in regard to style and subject matter.

We at the Imaginary Garden have reached the end of an exhaustive test of our commitment to the art of poetry, both in regard to providing an innovative prompt-a-day and by writing to as many as we were able during that time. I do not see NaPoWriMo as a competition, but a personal challenge and a dedication only artists may understand among themselves. Once again, we are here to provide the forum for sharing any poem you have written this last week, or month or year. We are not looking for in-depth criticism of what we do, only affirmation that we have said something in line or verse, which may have touched the consciousness of a reader. This relationship between writer and reader always comes back to communication of the ideas in a supportive environment.

21 comments:

hedgewitch said...

A passage from Rilke I've always felt very close to, Kerry. If you aren't writing for the sake of it, because the alternative is silence,you are not looking in the right place. A very heartfelt thanks for all the inspiration this month, and all the support from everyone here at the Garden.

ccchampagne said...

To be honest I'd never read this letter before (and very little Rilke at all), but it set off a whole train of thoughts in my head. Thank you so much for this inspiration, and thank you to all Toads for the amazing work you do keeping this garden so creative and welcoming!

Susan said...

Hey Kerry and all! Excited to see a section of "Letters to a Young Poet" here. I have given copies of this book to all my friends! Today I am posting a little piece from yesterday's challenge.

Kerry O'Connor said...

My final chapter in the Blake series I began at the beginning of April. I feel it has come full circle now. Many thanks to those who have already read it and left your most valuable comments.

blueoran said...

Thanks Kerry -- like many, I too have so resonated with Rilke's Letters, so much so that verse letters -- to a dead Shaman, to my dead brother, to abandoned loves and the deep dead -- have become a trusty scythe in the bardic barn.

I've always been so moved and vastly troubled what follows in the letter you quote:

"Dig deep into yourself for a true answer. And if it should ring its assent, if you can confidently meet this serious question with a simple, 'I must,' then build your life upon it. It has become your necessity. Your life, in even the most mundane and least significant hour, must become a sign, a testimony to this urge ... "

Rilke was perhaps the only poet EVER to entirely exist upon his writing of poems -- never taught, had any day job, nothing but writing poems. Few can live even close to his example. A god? Perhaps, but certainly a bell on Sunday ever reminding us of this love, this task, this burden inconsequential to everything else a human exists for. Who else can we address such things to except the poets in each of ut, and the ancient one deep down inside who bid us Write?

Anyhoo, thanks Kerry for the great lead and for your next Blakean ode. Headed there now.

Jim said...

Hi Kerry ~~ I'm glad you made the challenge. I didn't dare try as we are on the road. It was a challenge to write and post this one, we are docked at Cork,
Ireland at the moment.
Just a tale of yesterday's good fortune for those who care to read it.
Thank you once more, Jim
..

humbird said...

Thank you so much for the inspiration, Kerry! I read Rilke last summer! Real treat! My Sunday poem for Sunday Whirl here today. Happy week to All! :)xx

Marian said...

Love it and thank you, Kerry. I'm pleased to have something to share this Monday, as my focus has been elsewhere of late. With any luck, things are changing direction for me which will mean more writing. Because yes, I must write. Good morning and have a wonderful week, friends.

Susie Clevenger said...

Thanks so much for sharing this quote Kerry. I write because I must. It shines light into my shadows and lets me be light when my words are their brightest. I feel so blessed to be here in the garden. I can't really put into words what it means to me and my writing.

Bekkie Sanchez said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bekkie Sanchez said...

I wrote with you once before but lost track. I am back. I write with Magpie Tales each Sunday and your Monday write looks like more of the same fun and support I get at Mag. This week's poem is very personal like another poem I've read this week of Susie Cleaver. Glad to be back!

grapeling said...

Excellent quote. Good week to all ~

Mark Kerstetter said...

And, for what it's worth, I've always felt that Rilke was speaking to himself in these letters at least as much as he was to the addressee.

I'm happy to join the pond today, and thanks all for being here.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Some fantastic reading in here this morning, kids. Thank you!

Hannah said...

What valuable lessons within this letter...thank you Kerry, it certainly resonates.

Kerry O'Connor said...

Hi Bekkie, Sorry I couldn't leave a comment on your post because I don't sign in with Google+ but I found your poem and experience very well-expressed though sad to read.

Kerry O'Connor said...

Susie, I have yet to write my poem for Margaret's challenge, but as soon as I do, I'm going back to read all the others. Hopefully tomorrow will be the day it takes shape.

Margaret said...

…I have a couple of hours I think free tonight to catch up on this week's commenting. Our house is on the market and have had a few showings… which means utter chaos with cleaning, getting the animals out of the house, etc. No one interested yet, though.

manicddaily said...

Thank you, Kerry. The Rilke is wonderful and I agree with it totally. That said, you have helped so much with my writing this month--looking to you and all of the wonderful prompts and encouragement you have arranged. So thanks very very much. k.

Bekkie Sanchez said...

To Kerry O'Connor, thanks for telling me! I will visit more work during the week including yours!

To Toads, thanks for your warm welcome! I have a few friends who don't have Google accounts so they use the Contact Me at the bottom of my blog and I get comments that way too. It's up to you! Thanks again for the warm welcome and I promise not all my poems are like this!

Jim said...

Hi Kerry ~~ Not an expert here by any means but I support this. My poetry idol is Ted Kooser, 13th Poet Laureate of the United States, and he basically agrees.
My favorite of his advice is that if you wish to be read then write to your reading audience, i.e. keep them in mind while writing.
..
p.s. We have made it to London but I won't have time to post today. We are headed to Little Venice (on the canal) for a boat festival.
..