A few weeks ago I went on a writer’s cruise which combined a writing course with a cruise on the Nile from Luxor to Aswan. To me that was a great opportunity, not only to push myself out of my comfort zone, but to also assess where I stood as a writer. I have been writing and publishing my articles on a blog as well as on Facebook for nearly a year now, and have found encouraging reception of my writings. But the nature of the animal being what it is, I am never sure that what I have written is any good, or will be well received. Every time. So there is always the worry about my readers’ reaction. It is therefore very gratifying whenever I get a reaction from my readers, even though it might be acknowledgement of having read my article. Comments are very important as they give me concrete feedback, even though they might be critical.
The writing course was interesting not because of the information dispensed, that can all be had on the internet, but because of the people attending. Such an interesting variety of humanity, all of us, aspiring to become writers, poets, artists. The range of age was great, the variety of backgrounds and education notable, as well as the individual characters involved.
This being a course in imaginative writing put me at a disadvantage. I had written one imaginative article which was totally ignored by my readers, I think it embarrassed them to read it. So I stuck to my genre which is what actually happens to me and how I feel about it. A large part of the attendees were repeat students so were in tune with the rhythm of the course as well as its methodology. I felt like a pragmatic elephant, my prose was down-to-earth with a slight twist of sarcasm. Theirs, well not all but most, were off on flights of lyrical fancy. The contrast could not have been greater. To my horror I found that I was beginning to enjoy the extremes to which some flights went, which tickled my sense of humor, and what I found really astounding was the applause and adulation given afterwards. My greatest strain was in trying to keep a straight face during some of those sessions. But I must admit that I was not bored.
These few days spent on that course left such a strong residue in my psyche that needs to be purged by a parody, so I wrote the following:
Taking her stance, she prepared herself by moving her shoulders, arms and hands in a random, not inelegant pose, to set the stage and mood for the upcoming recitation. When the audience settled down and looked raptly upon her, in a deep, soft voice she started:
‘The magenta shadows chasing the hellbent trees
Across unpaved paths, undeserted and unfit
Overrun by dead rabbit holes
Drowning in cruel moonlight, unsung.
The unholiest of holies, unbent the tender rocks
Shunned unlit pain to clashing guitars
The cymbals whispering to screaming leaves
Where are they? When did they go?
No more, no more.’
The class erupted in applause, and praise rained on the humbly bent head of the young, inspired poet. She still had that far away look that indicated a state of trance-like inspiration. The muse was still upon her. She did not acknowledge the applause. She was still listening to that illusive inner voice. Maybe it had something more to say.
A quick glance at the clock on the wall across the room showed me that there were still twenty minutes till the end of class. So maybe the Muse would kindly descend with another couple of verses, that would be hailed by one and all as pearls falling off the lips of a Goddess. Maybe then we could have that coffee. I sighed. Inadvertently I caught the eye of another student who sent me a look of sympathetic understanding. She knew how I felt, how moved I was by those golden verses.
Quickly lowering my eyes I tried to keep a bland expression on my face which could be interpreted by anyone looking as anything he/she wished it to mean. I had gotten away with that up till now. Nobody suspected how I really felt. If the blathering continued I shall be sorely pressed till it was time to go.
Suddenly the poet shuddered and gave a deep sigh, as though coming out of a deep sleep. A sunny smile lit up her rather heavy features and she looked around waiting for the reaction. On cue they all started praising, their phrases stumbling over one another, eager to please, to be noticed.
The adulation washed over the poet, she appeared to be using it to cleanse her soul so new inspiration can then be received. The vague smile, the raptly vacuous eyes, the pointless movement of arms and hands, all meant to convey the state in between inspirations, a hardly tolerated world, where one breathed the mundane till inspiration returned to carry her on the transparent wings of beauty.
The clock struck the hour. Thank God! Coffee!”
19 June 2014