“The poet doesn’t invent. He listens.” — Jean Cocteau
The thing about listening is we sometimes hear things contrary to the way we’ve always done things. Do we follow this path or stick with the tried and true? What’s so true about the tried anyway?
The muse isn’t the author, it’s the voice of countless generations of poets and writers, philosophers and gurus who precede the author, channeled into insight. We derive from the act of listening and act upon it. There’s a lot of action in that statement. A great artist creates something meaningful and profound from what they’ve observed, which requires action and a healthy dose of boldness. Listening is passive until it serves as a catalyst for something more.
We must begin. Simply if necessary. A timid step forward is nonetheless a step forward. We must progress in our work. We must be out in the world to know the world. We must accumulate knowledge and experience and then do something with it, or it becomes trivial. I think back on the accumulated knowledge I picked up in school and laugh to myself at how much was actually utilized in real life. The real game in school was the human dynamic flowing around the structured learning. Doesn’t it remain so still?
Of course, that Cocteau quote applies to so much more than poetry. Take a look around and listen to the world, for it’s telling us plenty. It too should be a catalyst for something more. The trick is to create something better out of that which we observe. Again, we must progress, or it’s trivial. Haven’t we had enough of trivial? Whatever our life’s work, we must make it poetry.