Today is National Poetry Day here in the UK. The event takes place every year on the first Thursday of October and encourages people to make, experience and share poetry with family and friends. Each year has a specific theme and this year’s theme is the environment. The event was founded in 1994 by the charity, Forwards Arts Foundation.
The British actress, Dame Judy Dench, once said “a bad experience of Shakespeare is like a bad oyster – it puts you off for life.”
This, it appears, is the case for me.
Before you all start screaming, “Philistine,” I would like to put on record, Shakespeare is probably the greatest and most influential writer to have graced this planet. The fact his work, 400 years on,..
‘We do a lot of looking: we look through lenses, telescopes, television tubes. Our looking is perfected every day – but we see less and less.’ – Frederick Franck
When I read the above quotation, the words felt quaint, almost warming, and hard to believe they were written only forty years ago. The extract is taken from the start of a book, The Zen of Seeing: Seeing / Drawing as a meditation, written by Frederick Franck in 1977.
I bought the book a couple of months ago from a car boot sale and the reading has brought home a realisation, as a writer, I was becoming blind. Not in a physical sense, more in a way that I was detaching myself from the world around me.
Where Franck mentions television tubes, change those words to iPhone, iPad, laptop, desktop, television screen. Technology appears to have made the world bigger. Has it become smaller?
There is an excellent exercise in the book where Franck asks the reader to concentrate their eyes on something in front of them, then close their eyes for five minutes and try to relax. When their eyes are reopened, he asks the reader to refocus on the object and record what they see. Although this book is predominantly aimed at artists the exercise can be adapted for most creative practices.(more…)