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Friday, March 4, 2011

Stanley Kunitz

"The poem in the head is always perfect.  Resistance begins when you try to convert it into language."

American Poet
1905 - 2006

This statement by Stanley Kunitz sums up one of the key challenges that every creative leader faces.  What we create in the physical world never is as good as what we imagine in our minds.  Most artists, writers and performers are never satisfied with the end product because we see something different in our mind's eye.  And we have to learn to accept that it is okay to be imperfect.  Perfection is unachievable.  In fact, as humans what makes us interesting is our flaws.  And the same thing is true of our art.  It is the mistakes that make our art unique.  If the work we created was perfect, then every piece of art would look the same.  It is our flaws and weaknesses that make our art uniquely ours.  Our imperfections help make the art perfect.

Here is a poem by Stanley Kunitz.

Passing Through

By Stanley Kunitz

     -- on my seventy-ninth birthday

Nobody in the widow's household
ever celebrated anniversaries.
In the secrecy of my room
I would not admit I cared
that my friends were given parties.
Before I left town for school
my birthday went up in smoke
in a fire at City Hall that gutted
the Department of Vital Statistics.
If it weren't for a census report
of a five-year-old White Male
sharing my mother's address
at the Green Street tenement in Worcester
I'd have no documentary proof
that I exist.  You are the first,
my dear, to bully me
into these festive occasions.

Sometimes, you say, I wear
an abstracted look that drives you
up the wall, as though it signified
distress or disaffection.
Don't take it so to heart.
Maybe I enjoy not-being as much
as being who I am.  Maybe
it's time for me to practice
growing old.  The way I look
at it, I'm passing through a phase:
gradually I'm changing to a word.
Whatever you choose to claim
of me is always yours;
nothing is truly mine
except my name.  I only
borrowed this dust.