This show changed my life. I was a cynic. It brought back the joy…
This week on the Influence: Philip Larkin!
FIRST, though, a confession: I watch The Voice. There I said it.
Sharing this information in a public forum is tough. Indeed, admitting what T.V. shows one indulges in can be as nerve-wracking and potentially embarrassing as…uhm, I don’t know – writing poetry.
Growing up in Texas, some of my homeboys back in the day didn’t take kindly to my versifying ways (I say it this way because it wouldn’t be polite of me to share exactly what they said of my ambitions to be a poet).
And yet I forged on – not out of any well-thought out conviction that I had been born with a direct line to the Muse – I forged on out of a sheer inability to do anything else but forge on.
It is this reflex, this connection that cannot be denied, that gets me to the page each day. This reflex has its roots down where everything I enjoy resonates – from what I eat to what I read – and, yes, what I watch on T.V.
What moves me about Adam Levine’s words above is that simple admission: that he was a cynic. One spends years entrenched in an art and risks slowly growing competitive and desensitized, unwilling to see beyond the niche one works out of. One must seek ways to push beyond such limits, experiences that bring back the joy of what you do, that bring you back to why you do it.
Nothing beats finding a new writer you enjoy – someone who raises the temperature in the room you’re in, that has you smiling despite yourself as you read each incredible, engrossing word.
Afterwards, you judge. You gauge how good it is against what you see as better. You go back to your page to catch up, to outdo. But for awhile there, you simply read.
Watching Adam Levine & co. listen to music and talk about it passionately has taught me a lot about humility and generosity.
Philip Larkin, too, has been a model for humility.
His poem “This Be the Verse” is infamous for its bitterness and warning against ever becoming a parent. He HATED this poem being what most people recalled when his name was brought up. While being popular, he felt it also made him seem less serious. People often miss when the bitterness gives way. He was a man of strong opinions – who knew what he liked – and it is that strength and nerve that guided the many illuminating and well-crafted poems he left us.
Here’s another poem about “mum and dad.” I love how it leaves you at that moment of not understanding something fully but feeling it.
Ultimately, what we like is what we feel.
Coming – Philip Larkin
On longer evenings,
Light, chill and yellow,
Bathes the serene
Foreheads of houses.
A thrush sings,
In the deep bare garden,
It’s fresh-peeled voice
Astonishing the brickwork.
It will be spring soon,
It will be spring soon –
And I, whose childhood
Is a forgotten boredom,
Feel like a child
Who comes on a scene
Of adult reconciling
And can understand nothing
But the unusual laughter,
And starts to be happy.