Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Nothing More Than Good Orderly Direction

I don't think poets think. And I know that sounds like a lame excuse spat from a pessimistic high school English student, but ask around and you'll find that I'm really not pessimistic, and I'm really not studying poetry currently, so there is no reason for an excuse to be flung.

After "I'm Yours" blew up, Jason Mraz's blogs tended to keep a steady theme: "Don't praise me for the music." I remember vividly (although sadly the man is such an avid blogger that I can't recall the post) him saying, in effect, "You don't want to meet me. I'm not the one writing these songs." After a dedicated search I have located one such post: ( ) "The songs don’t belong to me. They are bigger than I’ll ever be and they will certainly live a lot longer than I will...Even the personal songs about my family and factual love stories, I will not take credit for writing them. It is my duty to simply sit and listen to a frequency that anyone can hear; A station perhaps from space, commercial free, broadcast in the clouds. I don’t ask. I sing-a-long to that station nonetheless, and happen to record the phrases and melodies from time to time, and still they are not my own. Maybe I am a receiver, but just an instrument in that sense. My body is just hardware. Some other wonderful force is playing the song."

Did you catch it? Even this simple paragraph... He said it beautifully. Poetically.


And perhaps I'm so bent on this being the case because this is how I write. I don't sit down and think "I'm going to write a poem now. I think it'll be about a bird, but thematically it will reference the freedom of the human soul when the body is confined. And to accomplish this I will use only similes and words that sound like their meaning. And I believe an a-b-a-b rhyme scheme will be rather appropriate. Now for the plunge!"

Thousands of authors have come before me, and thousands have yet to come. But do any really know what writing is? And those who have cracked the code--whether it be sitting in candle light thinking of the most thematically relevant vocabulary words, or merely painstakingly adjusting your dials until the cosmics start transmitting to you--refuse to reveal the secret. My initial thought toward novel writing is that one should be written in a day or two. Because a day or two is about as long as it takes to read any normal book. My regard toward poetry is that it should take little over five minutes to create a poem: because it takes little under five minutes to read one.

But it would be idiotic, would it not, to assume that a stage show was created on the spot, the actors in costume, synchronized in dance, memorized and moving with no rehearsal or prior thought? Yet with movies I find myself wondering when the actors memorized their lines. And how. They don't have a stage to practice on for weeks. It's filmed in a studio or on location. Filming would be their first time running it properly. So it must be their first time running it ever. How do they know?

No one's been there to say "Here's a method for writing. Here's how poems come into being." So as far as I'm concerned they come with little thought. They are not created intentionally by the author, they come from a feeling pushing the mahogany shutters of the soul open and allowing the blessed rain of thought to drift in on the wind. Authors aren't rocket scientists. Poets aren't mathematicians. Writing isn't thinking. It's a realm of emotion backed with a knowledge of words that lets a composition thrive.

And for a time I thought perhaps it was just me, in spite of Mraz's insistence he experiences it too. Perhaps he and I are of the few who take the easier path of receiving inspiration rather than truly owning the talent, presence of mind, and strength to produce anything of worth. But then I found this, and I don't know, but knowing Michael Jackson's stand on the matter made it all the more believable that a power larger than man creates through man.

"I hate to take credit for the songs I've written. I feel that somewhere, someplace, it's been done, and I'm just a courier bringing it into the world. I really believe that." -Michael Jackson

"Whatever “being” is to the human. Whatever air is to the bird, or what water is to the fish. Whatever force decides to make our hearts beat and food digest. That mad divine scientist is who is responsible for these songs. They are a gift for all of us." -Jason Mraz

Poets don't think. Poets allow themselves to be used. And that "mad divine scientist" keeps finding new, willing, open vessels. And oh, how it is to be one.

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