I Am Become Life, Eater of Verbs

A little less than a year ago, I had the good fortune of attending a poetry reading by the poet Tim Seibles (if you haven’t read his work, check him out here), after which I purchased a copy of his latest poetry collection Fast Animal and introduced myself to him.  I asked him if he would be so kind as to sign the book for me.  He was and he did.

The inscription on the title page of the collection read:

“Bill,

Poetry is Bread.

Let’s EAT the Verbs…

Keep your fire!

Jim”

Now, at the time I didn’t exactly know what he meant by this, whether it was just a spontaneous fragment from a great poet, or whether he had hidden something in there that needed to be unpacked like so many other great poems.  And to be honest, I didn’t really give his words much thought once I finished reading his book.  But earlier today, I began tossing these words around in my mind as I drove home–completely at random – Bam! – they just hit me–and I decided on the latter.

What I extracted from his note to me is that we musn’t idle, but rather take an active part in the creative process–devour our art and the art of others.  Just as food gives us energy to live, our hunger for art is what drives us (at least those of us who fancy ourselves artists), and our dining on what inspires us is what keeps us going.  We must nourish ourselves, lest our fires go out.

During his visit, Seibles read and we listened.  He joked and we laughed.  In other words, we all verbed together.

It was a great example of this process in action.

As writers, artists, aspiring lunatics…we all fall into ruts, oftentimes seeming so deep it’s as if they’ll swallow us forever.  Yet it’s in these times that we should pause, wallow if it seems fitting, and then get off our asses and go live life.  The world, each moment, is an experience waiting to be embraced and lived like only we can live it.  The good, the bad–take it all.

Actively participating in the creative process is more than jotting down a few lines, painting a few strokes and tucking them away in a dark corner somewhere, denying them the life we struggled so hard to give them.  We need to put ourselves and our art out there, for others to devour, purging ourselves to make room for whatever comes next.

As I write this, the rest of the SLAA crew is at Cedar’s Lounge verbing it up in the wake of the premier for the 5th issue of the Jenny online literary magazine (go on, have a taste).  The event tonight was a terrific success thanks to the efforts and support of so many and yet another example of people participating in this process, reading, listening, drinking, and embracing experience.

Whether it’s mediocre or noteworthy, every moment fuels us, and thus shouldn’t be discarded.

I’d like to think this is what Tim Seibles was trying to tell me.  But perhaps I just took a few impromptu words by a man I admired and ran with them, constructing some sort of poorly articulated philosophy with which to color my perspective on this cold day in late November.

I don’t know.

But I believe the creative process is an active one.  Let’s share ourselves and eat every damn scrap of experience we can get our hands on.

The world is all around us, waiting to be devoured.

So let’s eat.

Let’s get out there and verb the fuck out of it.

-William R. Soldan   SLAA member/Treasurer, Jenny Fiction Editor, and Raging Idealist

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