Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Cigar Smoking Poetess - Spotlight on Amy Lowell

Amy Lowell (1874-1925) was an award winning American Poetess, from a long line of brilliant people including a Harvard president and a noted astronomer.   She never attended college because, you know, it wasn’t proper for a woman.  Lowell was reputed to be a lesbian, which is reflected in some of her love poems.  She died at the age of 51 of a cerebral hemorrhage.  Her work enjoyed a renaissance in the 1970’s when the women’s movement got a foothold.
It may seem an odd time to ponder a poem entitled “Summer”.  I encourage you to give it a read, as it is actually singing the praises of winter.  What a lovely paradigm shift, and a sentiment I share with the author.  Poems about nature are very often too idealized or saccharin to feel sincere.  This one rings true to me, and I am adding it to my “Best of the Best Anthology”.
Let me know if you agree.
Summer – by Amy Lowell
Some men there are who find in nature all
Their inspiration, hers the sympathy
Which spurs them on to any great endeavor,
To them the fields and woods are closest friends,
And they hold dear communion with the hills;
The voice of waters soothes them with its fall,
And the great winds bring healing in their sound.
To them a city is a prison house
Where pent up human forces labour and strive,
Where beauty dwells not, driven forth by man;
But where in winter they must live until
Summer gives back the spaces of the hills.
To me it is not so. I love the earth
And all the gifts of her so lavish hand:
Sunshine and flowers, rivers and rushing winds,
Thick branches swaying in a winter storm,
And moonlight playing in a boat's wide wake;
But more than these, and much, ah, how much more,
I love the very human heart of man.
Above me spreads the hot, blue mid-day sky,
Far down the hillside lies the sleeping lake
Lazily reflecting back the sun,
And scarcely ruffled by the little breeze
Which wanders idly through the nodding ferns.
The blue crest of the distant mountain, tops
The green crest of the hill on which I sit;
And it is summer, glorious, deep-toned summer,
The very crown of nature's changing year
When all her surging life is at its full.
To me alone it is a time of pause,
A void and silent space between two worlds,
When inspiration lags, and feeling sleeps,
Gathering strength for efforts yet to come.
For life alone is creator of life,
And closest contact with the human world
Is like a lantern shining in the night
To light me to a knowledge of myself.
I love the vivid life of winter months
In constant intercourse with human minds,
When every new experience is gain
And on all sides we feel the great world's heart;
The pulse and throb of life which makes us men!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Volunteer Work - Just Say NO

I’ve been noticing a trend that I do not like one bit - giving away one’s talent, services, and skills…for free.  This is not the pure thing it was in past, when Aunt Susie volunteered two days a week at the Pink Elephant store in town.  Oh no.  This is blatant disrespect, as I see it, for the professional creativity and skill of others. 
Now, I’m pretty sure we are all grateful for people like volunteer fireman, professionals who do pro bono work for those unable to pay for their services, and neighbors who step in to help when someone is in trouble.  As a massage therapist, I have offered my time and skills to various charities and individuals whom I felt I could help.  The operative word is “offered”. 
If I am solicited for my professional skills, I expect payment.  Now, before you tune me out and say “oh, there goes the almighty dollar, getting in the way of good deeds again”, let me explain the principle. 
Let’s say you have an art opening, for which you wish to have live music.  Your guests are coming free of charge, and as much as I LOVE art, I do not consider it a life or death necessity (ie you’re not the children’s cancer ward at the local hospital).  Why on earth would you not charge a dollar or two per person at the door and give some of it to your skilled help and performers?
Again, it’s principle.  You may only be able to pay 20 bucks to someone who worked all day to make YOUR event a success, but it matters.  And before you hold up the “gilded lily” of beefing up their resume’ or garnering future clients, let me say this – a PAID gig (the exact amount is not important) looks good on a resume’ and in my experience, those attending fully free events are not generally seeking the services of musicians, caterers and the like, so that’s a dead end. 
Furthermore, those who do this sort of gig out of friendship, or frankly, insecurity in their skills are setting the bar low for their respective industry.  In other words, you are screwing your own colleagues out of being taken seriously and ultimately making a living from their chosen profession. 
So please, think twice the next time some long-faced event planner hits you up for your time and service for absolutely zero effort or money.  There is almost always a more worthy recipient of your talents.
*smacks you on the ass*