On the spectrum of things I hate, ranging from downright despicable to death is better than dealing with this, it goes like this:
vacuum the house
eat a lychee nut
go to church
write an artist’s statement
shake hands with George Bush and/or Dick Cheney
touch a spider
Honestly, you’d have to threaten me with a spider to get me to touch a spider. As for Bush and Cheney, they surely don’t like me, either. Alas.
Then there’s the artist’s statement. Evidently, I can write a hundred page play, no problemo! But ask me to write my “artist’s statement” in five hundred words or less and I got nothing. I’ve been working on applications for writers’ residencies all day. I know I am not the first or the last writer who hates these things. I’ve spent hours on this–hours I could have spent on, oh I don’t know, my actual writing.
But whereas spiders are just pure evil, artist’s statements are more of the necessary kind. So I will endeavor to persevere on this application for a writer’s residency instead of working on a play or a poem. In the meantime I offer my ars poetica, from a few years ago, my first attempt at my explanation of myself as an artist. I read it from time to time, just to remind myself.
For instance nothing in this world
not me making the poem or you
You know what poetry is to me,
God made a rabbit
set it in the grass,
Devil made a popgun
shot him in the ass
and goddamn if you don’t laugh.
It’s a poem, after all,
you’re supposed to.
Someone said of you once:
you are an apple unpicked
on the highest branch where harvesters
couldn’t reach you
up there where
the winds of heaven mix forever
with a sweet emotion
a place you and I converge
thee mine, I thine
and I ask you take my hand, take this, my body,
and years ago and years from now
when any of us true in love but truly writes,
it won’t matter if it’s Sappho or Jesus,
Shelley or Shakespeare or the man in a white apron
packing salt around a fresh leg of pork
for a six month cure in the cooler.
The words came from you,
they belong to you.