We were reading a packed-full-of-revelations1992 interview with poet Gary Snyder when we came across this amazing, of-the-cuff line. What a concept! The context is his answer to the question about whether he’d work as Secretary of the Interior or other political post if asked:
I’ve never thought seriously about that question. Probably not, although I am foolish enough to think that if I did do it, I’d do it fairly well, because I’m pretty single-minded. But you don’t want to be victimized by your lesser talents. One of my lesser talents is that I am a good administrator, so I really have to resist being drawn into straightening things out. The work I see for myself remains on the mythopoetic level of understanding the interface of society, ecology, and language, and I think it is valuable to keep doing that.
The gist: Don’t let a not-terribly-important skill that you happen to be good at sidetrack the real work you need to do. How wise that guy is, always was…
In case you don’t know Snyder, here’s a couple of his poems that have much to do with how any creative work gets made.
We recommend reading them out loud…
How Poetry Comes to Me
It comes blundering over the
Boulders at night, it stays
Frightened outside the
Range of my campfire
I go to meet it at the
Edge of the light
All this new stuff goes on top
turn it over, turn it over
wait and water down
from the dark bottom
turn it inside out
let it spread through
Sift down even.
Watch it sprout.
A mind like compost.
Related posts: pablo neruda on the creative process
‘the imperfect is our paradise’ (wallace stevens)
the magic of guerilla poetry (become a poetry bomber)
what happens if you start your day with a poem?
“don’t give up!” (the inspirational letters project)