Did Poetry Need Saving?

Portrait of a Man Holding a Watch

  • Are you a poet? Read the following statements:

“A day in the life can consist of all-day writing, touring, or, perhaps unprecedented for a poet, time in the office with her team to oversee operations and manage projects.

Building their own mini brands, poets can harness e-commerce to supplement their income.”

  • Did this make you flinch? Chances are you aren’t a wealthy poet.

Most likely, not a Rupi Kaur’s fan. You probably don’t think that Instagram saved poetry. You might very well doubt that poetry needed saving in the first place.

“But poetry, like any other art, must adapt to the world changing around it.” Must it? Hmm… I wonder.

  • Don’t despair. You are not alone.

“…the man who has often been called the greatest poet of the 20th century struggled to make ends meet. He accepted money from relatives to buy underwear and pajamas, and anxiety over his finances drove him to breakdowns.”

His name is T.S. Eliot.

Just keep writing poetry.

Image: Frans Hals. Portrait of a Man Holding a Watch, 1643. Oil on canvas, Overall: 32 1/2 x 26 1/4 in. (82.6 x 66.7 cm). BF262. Public Domain.

 

On Wealth, Poverty, & Vermeer’s Light

Все картины Яна Вермеера 3

  • Is fifteen a big number? How about forty three? Or thirty six? How does one measure wealth? Or success?

Johannes Vermeer had fifteen children. He was forty three years old when he died. He produced relatively few paintings: some sources say thirty four, some — thirty six.

One of the greatest painters of the Dutch Golden Age passed away in poverty leaving his family to deal with debts. In his work he frequently used very expensive pigments.

No one paints light like Johannes Vermeer.

If you want more, Essential Vermeer has pretty much got it all.

And if you’re still looking for poetic inspiration, here’s a magic word for you: grisaille. Isn’t it lovely?

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Image: The Milkmaid, Johannes Vermeer, c. 1660, Public Domain

 

 

 

 

 

Herman Melville: Sea Romancer Turned Gardener

“His subjects at the end included roses and irises, bluebirds and chipmunks, his early life with Lizzie in the Berkshires, and children’s dreams. …

…toward the end, … Melville … seems to have been content to avoid socializing, preferring instead to read his books, write, and tend his rose bushes.”

A short essay by  Mark Beauregard, offering a glimpse into Melville’s last years.

Did the “failed novelist” fail at yet another thing — poetry? Did he crave commercial success? Was he a happy man?

Happy, believe, this Christmas eve,
Are Willie and Rob and Nellie and May—
Happy in hope! in hope to receive
These stockings well-stuffed from Santa Claus’ sleigh.

— from Weeds and Wildings, with a Rose or Two, a collection of Melville’s poetry published in a private edition by Lizzie, Melville’s wife of more than forty years.