Theft of Laziness

Long Beach, CA

January Southern California–damp chilly air, pale gray skies with flecks of white, opaque near the coast, while sections of blue appear inland, to the north-east. A scene that in me instigates dreams of Hawai’i, coastal Central America–places where the coupling “warm and beachy” is still winter applicable (you know you hate cold when coastal Southern California’s climate feels frigid). Humans evolved mostly in the tropics and I’m feeling the increasing need to return home …

Doing my best to emulate Patti Smith [see my previous post] and take a slow day. I did a little work for school this morning, but I spent the last few hours in a coffee shop down the street, leisurely studying Greek and then doing a bit of reading. I need hours and hours–weeks, months–of such behavior, I’m realizing. I want to take a year and do nothing that I would classify as “work,” go to Crete for an extended period and really nail down my Greek, write each morning as a ritual, a way to ease deeply into each day …

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I’ve been thinking lately of something T.S. Eliot said to a young Lawrence Durrell. Durrell was then mostly known as a poet and Eliot was concerned that his young protege was being too industrious. To be a poet requires a certain amount of “laziness,” Eliot told him. I know exactly what he meant. Poetry–all art, really–emerges from understanding who you are from many directions at once–and this happens when ones contemplations are not continually hitting boundaries, the most detrimental of which is circumscribed time. Most creativity takes place internally–the artists’ creations are just the expression of work that was largely completed in their heads and hearts; the creation of art is analogous to a woman giving birth. Poets, artists, are working their hardest when they appear to the rest of the world as being at rest …

All this nicely explains my current relationship with poetry. After a period of intense fertility, I have stopped dead as a poet–I haven’t written a poem since 2009. This is also when my “career” as a teacher began to “take off,” when the state of California decided that I was worthy of being allowed to sell my time–my poetry–to them for chump change …