Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Avoiding Didacticism and predigested ideas in our writing — Martin


Too often as believers, we feel we need to justify our art by encasing within it a message. This comes from a belief that the art itself is not important on its own, that God is only interested in having us preach.

What kills poetry — and other creative writing — more than anything else is preaching. If you have a message to teach, even if you write it in beautiful verse, it is in danger of not really being poetry. That’s not to say that poems don’t teach us; they do. Poems consider things, observe things, reflect on things — but good poems don’t tell the reader what to think.

The two most difficult subjects to write well about, are Love and God. The two subjects on which more bad poetry is written than any other, are Love and God. The two subjects that it is most important to write good poetry about, are Love and God. The problem is we have often decided what we want to say, or what we should say, before we write the poem. Think of Mother’s Day Cards. In his psalms David wasn’t afraid to say what you weren’t supposed to say to God; he questioned Him, and encountered truth.

Poetry is not about a topic — such as Love or God — poetry is interacting with ideas that matter — beauty, truth, mystery, emotion, love tragedy, life, death, and God — in a process of discovery; discovery for both the poet and the reader. If you’ve already decided what all the facts are, and you want to convey those thoughts to an audience, write a sermon; don’t write a poem. As H.R. Rookmaaker has famously said, “Art needs no justification.”

D.S. Martin is Music Critic for Christian Week; his poetry chapbook So The Moon Would Not Be Swallowed is available at www.dsmartin.ca
His full-length poetry book, Poiema (Wipf & Stock), will be available in September.

1 comment:

Marci said...

And all God's poets said .... Amen! :)

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