“Human presence is a creative and turbulent sacrament, a visible sign of invisible grace”. John O'Donohue

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Self Censorship

As you may know I have begun a blog for my Grandpa's poetry. Every day, I post a poem from his archives. That frequency may change in time but for now, I am enjoying engaging with him through his work.

I am typing all of the poems myself (rather than scan them, I mean) because it allows me to engage properly with each poem. Some, I know very well, others are new to me, but each one unfurls a new insight, a different perspetive, and reveals to me more of the man my Grandfather was.

Something that has struck me quite significantly over the past week or so, is how uncensored he was. And when you think about it, this is quiet a skill. The art of poetry is about editing: refining and honing so that only the necessary words and phrases remain. It isn't just about disgorging ideas onto paper - although that may be how the process begins. So, for those ideas, however challenging, shocking, startling, to remain in the economy of some of those words, is an art indeed.

The other thing that has struck me about this lack of self-censorship, is more about the honesty of revealing thoughts, ideas and fantasies. What this has done has sent me into one of those whirls of self-analysis (never entirely good). Because, although I strive for honesty, there are some things that I don't feel I could say. And it's all about the fear of being judged.

To be an artist, or someone who creates ( I put myself firmly in the latter category for fear of ridicule) that process of taking the ideas out of our heads and into the physical realm IS the process. Self-censorship kicks in for all manner of reasons: we judge what is "appropriate",  what is "good", what is "safe". Editing is one thing but when the essence of the work is lost, then perhaps we are censoring our ideas as unsafe?

For me, that often means that the idea never emerges at all. And this is quite a discovery. Grandpa always encourage me to write, to create. The process of re-engaging with his work has allowed me to engage with him as he continues to be,  and also with myself.

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