Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Kit Kelen - General Observations on own 366 participation

I feel a bit funny about going first to make this statement about my 366 participation, but I'm guessing maybe people are waiting for my lead. Ah, but now I see that Rosemary has contributed in the time I was scribbling this. Good on you, Rosemary. So here goes anyway.

I am one of those people who works at art practice every day, and I have done so for many years. I don't say this as a particular point of pride. It might be more like an affliction. But I'm certainly happier when I do it than when I don't. So I do it. You can call it a compulsion. I think that 'block' as in writer's block is basically a bullshit concept, a conspiracy of the precious. The precious are the enemy of art that has to come from somewhere. In my opinion! That said, one frequently produces crap and frequently wouldn't know till sometime after the effort. The point is that if you don't make the effort then you produce nothing. Remember the 99% perspiration! Art comes from what I would call 'informed practice' – in the case of poetry that means from the practice of someone who keeps themselves well read in poetry, and across the arts, and in the world more generally. And of course 366 is one way (among many) of doing those things, keeping yourself in practice. It seems to me.
Of course I wonder are these things I merely have to believe as a teacher, as a teacher of art practice? You see how doubts creep in, and at the most fundamental level. And this is a healthy thing, I think.

Having more than one art practice is helpful I find because it's less likely both will be bung at the same time. Though it does happen. For instance I haven't liked much of my effort with paint over the last month. But maybe that's just because it's a bit cold in my toxic studio (i.e. the open-air dairy)? Lots to ponder there but nice to ponder where it's warm in winter. Anyway I've been happy with what I've been writing and with some of the feedback and so on.

I thought of 366 as a sort of dare-to-myself that others might have been interested in taking too. I was doing it anyway, especially last year in Norway, with a poem draft a day. But it goes back years I've been posting work (mainly painting) daily to facebook. I feel better about it being to a blog, even if it goes to fb later. Fb sucks in several ways, but I won't pursue this problem here. Beyond the dare aspect, I was seriously interested in the idea of creating a community of dialogue among people who are or have been or might commit to daily art practice. And I hoped that that community could be as varied as possible, in terms of culture, ethnicity, language... but also genre and theme. Because of my own work with poet/translators over the years I hoped we could get as many of them involved as possible too. And so make it a community of instant translation, of translation and response – so we could be inspiring each other fairly immediately, and at least partly through the magic of suddenly being in another language. That's got to always be good for the soul!

366 has been working for me, personally. I mean I think I've been producing well, especially on the poetry side, as a result of my own participation. I'm not sure how much difference it's made on the art side, but then we're only half way through. In some ways I wish I'd been more dialogic in my participation, i.e. more responsive to others; but then again I think it's better not to force these things – rather, to take opportunities for a conversation-in-the-work just when you see those opportunities. I do worry, that in my own practice, 366 encourages a kind of laziness in that, while I feel compelled to put something up (generally every morning), maybe I'm not getting to the major work I'd been getting to if I wasn't so preoccupied with producing some small-draft-work-in particular every day. Then again, one perhaps should not gainsay how the daily works, and how the minor works, might add up in the end. I have a lot of starts and bits of other possible things (from novels to children's picture books) as a result of my 366 doodling. I simply worry that, over time, it won't be a blank enough mindspace to really properly allow the new in. I mean you have to be a bit bored and the 'problem' is 366 is never boring!

I do think that participation in 366 is helping me keep my eyes and ears open in a useful way... I mean it's helping to keep my work open. Reading everyone else's work of the day every day kind of buffets one around a bit, with 'ah, you could go there' thoughts, if you see what I mean.

I think there are a lot more possibilities for collaboration (and other kinds of cooperation) than we have explored so far. And I think now is the time to start widening our horizons in this sense. But I'd like to hear what others have to say about that, and about their own experience and feelings, before I bring up further topics or make any specific suggestions. (Yes, I'm still working through the topic list!)

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