A Sonnet on the Differences: Acknowledging and Encouraging Natural Talent
Undiscovered Natural Talent for Poetry
People consumed with success in one specialized area sometimes routinely fail to recognize and pursue a hidden natural talent they possess in another. People trained for high achievement in music, for instance, would hardly think of doing professional sociology if they had never attended a sociology class, never read a sociology book or article, never even met a sociologist, and never met anyone interested in sociology.
The same principle holds true for the writing of poetry which normally would not occur to the typical busy person without some previous exposure to poetry, some applicable reading, teaching, or perhaps just meeting up with someone else who was trying to write poetry.
Recently I've heard of some high-minded teachers who discourage their students with much pounding into their heads how ignorant they still are about the established conventions of writing good poetry, fiction, or nonfiction. Why not instead steer those students into reading good literature and help them learn the conventions by reference to their occurrence in the established writers of the past?
Why the impatient haste, so frequently expressed, to declare aspiring new talent ignorant and unworthy? Better to encourage a natural talent to take root securely before chopping it down with all the reasons it still has not matured into a fully grown tree.
In my Workshop for Writers, I let beginners write, encourage them to write, as creatively as possible, from their own personal thoughts and feelings, from their own reservoirs of experience, and from their own encounters with the established work of the great artists of the past.
The following American sonnet I wrote in respectful deference to the natural talent revealed when an administrator in a nonprofit organization surprised me by responding to my shared poems and rambling “teacher’s letters” with what she claimed was her own first poem since grade school days, the penetrating and insightful 27 words included verbatim (with her permission) in lines nine to eleven of this sonnet. She has since that time written several beautiful and compelling full poems and some letters that could pass as interesting if not publishable essays.
A Sonnet on the Differences
The differences between a lifetime of hard work
and places where the graces of raw talent lurk
cannot themselves be measured simply or explained
but only illustrated when the unprofaned
raw images of natural and factual
events of life give life to life more actual
and penetrating than the crafting circumstance
chopped out in labored effort’s contrived happenstance.
“Your fresh deep well now gurgles up, a bubbly babbling,
like a child splashing in the bath, and happiness soon swelling
spills out of your letter into my lap.” Such concrete writing
embarrasses the use of countless dictionaries spinning.
Persistent artists toil, and sweat, and tip their caps,
while genius, natural born to inspiration, naps.
Copyright © 2012 by Max J. Havlick, Villa Park, IL 60181-1938, all rights reserved.