Posts Tagged ‘daichi-zenji (1290-1366) poetry as a refining fire’

Stolen poetry…..

February 8, 2012

Sunset in a Violent Sky, copyrighted, 2007, janekohut-bartels, watercolor...this painting was copied by a person and enlarged without permission to hang on their

Recently, I received news  a poem of mine had been ‘stolen’.  Actually, a poet on an unknown poetry website had taken my poem, changed the title and a few lines in two stanzas, and published my poem on this website under her name.  What was especially galling was she  is no poet, and her revisions were horrible, awkward…an attempt to make something ‘more’  erotic by  adding cheap and tawdry phrases.   Confronted, she said that ‘she was inspired’ by other poet’s work.  The webmistress contacted me and asked if this was my poem.  I was surprised, because I didn’t know without the proper title how one would go about tracking the original poet.  Apparently, she had her suspicions, and googled the first couple of lines and my name and website came up.  She was deleted from this  unknown website.

I was dismayed.  Poetry generally comes from some of the deepest places in our beings: it’s an outward form of some very personal experience, or something like that.  This poem was written in 2008, at a difficult time in my life.  I was going through some physical and emotional changes and a year later, it received an award, (up until now, the only one….) as “Poem of the Year” on a particular website.  I had left that website, but was grateful for the award.

This ‘news’ about the plagiarized poetry came at a point when I was reading a chapter about creativity.  In Fox’s “Original Blessing”, this third path, Via Creativa, speaks of the hard labor necessary to produce artistic works, regardless of the medium.  It is not an activity of ‘letting it all hang out’ as we have been told by certain cultural ‘standards’ but one of a deep discipline.  To attempt to bypass this hard labor is not only stupid,  but robs the person of a deep meditation with oneself and a growth from this activity.  It is also hard to trust those images that come to us at the beginning of our creativity.  We are very judgmental towards our attitudes of our own self-expression.  We have to develop an attitude of trust, a trust that out of our silence, our waiting, our openness, our emptiness… these images can come.  I do know after 30 years of painting, each blank canvas, each clean piece of watercolor paper sends me into anxiety.  I don’t ‘trust’  I can again, produce something coming from the relay from the brain, through the eyes to the hand.  I forget I have 30 years of technique behind my painting, and feel like I have nothing to build upon for the next piece of work.  But I do, I just don’t trust myself.  It takes my ‘letting go’ of  judgmental attitudes  towards myself, towards my expectations, and settling down into the work and trusting  ‘something’ will come of it.  But it still is always a struggle to trust myself to be able to do something in this creative vein.

One of the problems for most creative people is to pick the image that sings loudest to us.  Perhaps because we fail to choose the strongest image, we give up creating anything.  The (dead) Zen artist Kenji Miyazawa said this about that:

“You experience something deeply. Later, you picture it in your own mind; you idealize it; you cooly and sharply analyze it; you throw all your passion and power into it. Then you fuse all these things together into one.  If you do this without self-consciousness, the depth and the power of creation will be much greater.”

In music, I have come across this ‘without self-consciousness’ terms as ‘getting out of the way’.

Somewhere Meister Eckhart talked about the ‘bridle of love’ that we need to steer our passions.  Not to control or abuse them, but to make them work for us.  This is discipline, done respectfully towards ourselves, for our developing and revealing creativity.  We suffer enough abuse, by ourselves and society, so adopting an environment of hard work, of sweat, of exhaustion, of joy and of discipline will only push our creativity further along.  This poor poet who didn’t trust herself enough to settle, look deeply within and create, is more to be pitied than  scorned, but perhaps put in stocks???  She stole other poet’s poetry because she did not love or honor herself.  Hopefully she will learn to love herself enough to become truly creative. Hopefully, she will not rob herself of this wonderful process.

The small poem below was inspired by these words of Daichi-zenji (1290-1366) “and bring back a pitcher containing the moon’.  Just those words set my brain on fire.  There is nothing wrong with ‘being inspired’ by the work and words of another poet: just be sure that inspiration is true to your own vision and abilities and you are not putting your chop on the work of another.

Lady Nyo


Pitcher of Moon

I dip into the pond

And gather a pitcher of moon.

Above, it glimmers

Smiles at my efforts,

This late- winter moon.

It is just a bowl of cool water

I am holding

But the magic of the cosmos settles

In this plain clay vessel.


Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2012

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