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Serious playfulness

Pain, like a tuning fork, sings clearest when held lightly. We all want to write about the significant people/situations/emotions in our lives, and yet we often make the mistake of approaching the significant with significance. We grip the entire tuning fork in our fist and wonder why it doesn’t resonate. Why do we do this? Naturally, we are too respectful of our subject matter. We feel it mattering. We feel its preciousness, its breakability, its importance to us.

So it’s not surprising that when we sit down to write, we bear the weight of that responsibility in our pens… and obstruct our spontaneity, our subconscious, thus pre-empting the outcome of the poem. If you approach a canvas with only grey on your palette, you’ll never paint a storm cloud that feels real; storm clouds have purple in them, ribbons of white… We must train ourselves to find light in our darkness. You can’t examine the underside of a problem unless it’s light enough to lift…

Light enough, even, to juggle with. To toss in the air and treat with irreverence. The poet Patrick Kavanagh once wrote ‘there’s nothing so dead and damned as an important thing’. There is a way to avoid the deadening, the dull sound of the smothered tuning fork; and that’s the spirit of play. So pick up your important things, tip your mind to a jaunty angle, and write with abandon.


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