The Beauty of Limits

I’d love to say that I’m one of those creative types who just has ideas flowing forth all the time, that I could barely keep up with all my ideas for thing to make, to do, to write. I wish that were true. The truth is, despite the fact that I have (finally) a fine arts degree, I usually struggle to come up with a starting point or an idea. For me, when the field is wide open, I just can’t even imagine where to begin. Sometimes my kids will request of me, “Draw me something.” They don’t understand how hard that is, to just draw something, anything. “Well, what do you want a picture of?” “I don’t know.”

I don’t know either.

Sometimes it seems easier to me to begin within a set of parameters. Sometimes limits stimulate creative thinking. This is one of the reasons I’ve been a perpetual student for the last 20 years: because in school I’m forced to push myself and jump-start my thinking by having to generate something that conforms to a specific set of rules.

Now that I’m done with school (for now), I have to find ways to create my own parameters and my own rules. It’s really quite challenging in its own right. I’m not particularly good at rules.

Magnetic poetry provides one such set of parameters. I know, it can be used to make really stupid and pointlessly crude phrases (that is certainly one of its most popular uses), but it can also be used to force a certain kind of flexibility in imagery and word choice. I realized I like it because it’s a sort of verbal collage. In the same way that I cut out images and move them around until they look right, I enjoy taking words and moving them around until they feel right. There is some element of selection, of course, but the options aren’t originally my own. I have to use what I’ve got.

Hmm, that relates to the cooking thing, too. Using leftovers, and all that.

So, what does it mean to be an artist anyway?
Does it really mean “creative problem solver”? That doesn’t sound as glamorous somehow…
Well, I don’t know. Maybe. Too many choices, I can’t even begin to decide.


Some Poetry That May or May Not Be Good,
But Was Made with Magnetic Poetry

A thousand whispers
Planet balmy like evening wind
What gold-red moon sips my breath?
Strange universe falling


Tinge my pithy Kafkaesque zeal
With crass delights and sanguine veils
(that was a great philosophy-themed set)


still roses cry their elaborate symphony
as my bitter honey sleeps,
a languid beauty

shadowed tongues dream easy beneath
the forested light
and sing the mists away