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Monday, August 25, 2014

Brian Herbert

“The capacity to learn is a gift; the ability to learn is a skill; the willingness to learn is a choice.” 

― Brian Herbert
American Novelist
1947 -

I am surprised every time I meet someone who shows no interest in learning.  For me, life is about learning new ideas, new techniques and new information.  If I lived a hundred lifetimes, I would never learn all there is to learn.

Creative leaders should develop a habit of lifelong learning.  Each new piece of information we learn has the potential to connect with an old piece of information that allows us to develop a new idea, a new way of looking at the world and even a new invention.

There are many ways of learning new ideas.  One of my favorite is through books.  Books have so much to teach us.  Have you developed a habit of daily reading?  How many books do you read a year?  I am reading over 40 at the current moment.  I am always looking for the next book to read.  And I think you should read what you like to read.  I love to read novels and poetry, and I also read history, biographies and memoirs.

Some people learn by meeting new people and learning their stories.  Every person has a story to tell.  I love to find people who have a story to tell about the industry they work in or the people they've met or the places they have been.  People are so fascinating.  Meeting people, though, is not about talking.  It is about listening.

Another way to learn is by doing new things and by going new places.  Trying something new like water skiing or surfing can open up new avenues of thought.  I am not the best of people to try doing new things.  I am afraid to fail.  Perfectionism raises its ugly head.  So I often avoid trying.  On the other hand I have traveled to many places and seen many new things that open the eyes.

Some people learn best by watching what is going on around them and imitating what they see.  They absorb lots of information with their eyes.  I learn some information with my eyes, but often I don't pay attention to the physical world.  I am too absorbed in my own thinking.  I admire people who see with their eyes.

Learning is a choice we all make.  Some of us choose to grow and develop our abilities.  Others choose to stagnate and die.  What choice have you made?

Brian Herbert is the oldest son of Frank Herbert, the famous science fiction writer and author of Dune.  Following in his father's footsteps, Brian has written several science fiction novels.  He has written several novels with Kevin J. Anderson that explore the worlds and history of Dune in greater detail.

Brian graduated from high school at sixteen and earned a B.S. degree in Sociology from UC-Berkley.  He is married with three daughters.

Here are Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson discussing their writing.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Masaoka Shiki

"Take your materials from what is around you — if you see a dandelion, write about that; if it's misty, write about the mist.  The materials for poetry are all about you in profusion."

Japanese Poet
1867 - 1902

Where do you get your ideas for your writing or your painting?  Are your ideas rooted in the world in which you live?  Has that maple tree in your backyard shown up in your painting?  Has the dragonfly or the butterfly appeared in your writing?  Look around you.  The world is yours for the taking.  Be sure to incorporate it into your creative work.

Even if you paint abstract paintings or write surrealistic poetry, you can take your inspiration from the world in which you live.  Nature is full of opportunity to explore the meaning of life and other philosophical questions.  It also teaches us practical lessons that we as humans need to learn.  What can you learn from the squirrel or rabbit or deer?

Human frailties can also be a great source of inspiration whether you are painting or writing.  What are you learning from the people in your life?  How are you applying these lessons to your art?

Creative Practice
Take 10 minutes everyday and write or paint something that you normally don't write or paint.  Take your subject from what is around you.  Maybe it is a dandelion, or a squirrel, or an oak tree, or even a spider.  Or take something you normally write or paint and change your perspective.

About the Poet
Masakoa Shiki (Tsunenori), considered one of four great Japanese poets, was born into a samurai family of modest means in the castle town of Matsuyama on the island of Shikoku.  His father, Tsuneanao, was an alcoholic who died when Shiki was five years old.  His mother was the daughter of a Confucian scholar who became Shiki's first teacher.  She was forced to teach sewing to support her family.  At 15, Shiki became involved in the Freedom and People's Rights Movement and became interested in being a politician.  He moved to Tokyo in 1883 to live with an uncle. While in Tokyo, he discovered baseball and enjoyed playing.  He entered the Imperial University in 1890 where he studied literature and eventually concentrated on haiku.

When Shiki was 22, he began coughing up blood and adopted the pen name, "Shiki," the name of a bird that according to legend coughed up blood as it sang.  He dropped out of the university and began working as haiku editor for a newspaper, Nippon.  Shiki suffered fro tuberculosis the last 14 years of his life.  He went to China in 1895 as a war correspondent in the First Sino-Japanese war.  Living in filthy conditions in China, Shiki grew worse.  He became bedridden in 1897.  The illness worsened in 1901 and he began using morphine as a painkiller.  He died of TB in 1902 at the age of 35.  

Haiku by Shiki

spring rain:
browsing under an umbrella
at the picture-book store

a look backward
at the person who went by —
misted out

the nettle nuts are falling . . .
the little girls next door
don't visit me these days

ways of the world,
may he never know them,
the toad

lifting my head,
I look now and then —
the garden clover

to awaken
the hot-water bottle, barely

how much longer
is my life?
a brief night . . .

a barrel full of phlegm —
even loofah water
will not avail me now

Biography  & Haiku Sources:
Beichman, Janine. Masaoka Shiki. Twayne Publishers (Boston). 1982.
Hoffmann, Yoel. Japanese Death Poems. Tuttle Publishing (Boston). 1986.
Isaacson, Harold J. Peonies Kana. Theatre Arts Books (New York). 1972.

Quote Source:
Beichman, Janine. Masaoka Shiki. Twayne Publishers (Boston). 1982.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Kenneth Patchen

"I don't consider myself to be a painter.  I think of myself as someone who has used the medium of painting in an attempt to extend — give an extra dimension to — the medium of words.  It happens very often my writing with a pen is interrupted with my writing with a brush — but I think of both as writing."

American Poet, Novelist
1911 - 1972

We define ourselves with labels.  "I am a painter.  What are you?"  "I am a poet."  We are born into this world without labels and when we die, our obituaries tell the world that we were lawyers, doctors, merchants or candlestick makers.

Kenneth Patchen
In my profile I list many of the labels that have defined me over the years:  a carpenter, street sweeper, car hop, corn detasseler, hospital orderly, radio announcer, blogger, book editor, publisher, freelance writer, bus driver, sports writer, bookkeeper, policy and procedures writer, forms designer, marketing vice-president, corporate executive, professional speaker, facilitator, salesman, trainer, poet, storyteller, organizational development consultant, ad writer and communications executive.  And that is the short list.

What labels have you given yourself?  What labels have others given you?  Do these labels define you?  Do the labels tell the world who you are?  Do your labels limit you or expand the boundaries of who you are?  Do the labels allow others to place you in a cubbyhole?  To limit your creativity?

Do you ever judge people by their labels?  "Oh, he is just a bus driver?  A street sweeper?  A garbage collector?...."

Patchen said that he is not a painter.  He is a writer who has given an added dimension to his writing.  He has extended the boundary of the label beyond how most people define it.

Kenneth Patchen
Kenneth Patchen, the son of Wayne and Eva Patchen, was born in Niles, Ohio.  His father worked in the steel mills.  He had four sisters and a brother.  His younger sister, Kathleen, was killed in an automobile accident when he was a teenager.  Patchen developed an interest in literature and writing while in high school.  He attended the University of Wisconsin for one year on a football scholarship but dropped out after a spinal injury.

After dropping out, Patchen traveled to the east coast and met his future wife, Miriam Oikemus, in Boston.  They were married in 1934 in Pennsylvania.  As Patchen attempted to make a living writing, the couple moved frequently between the east and west coasts.  He permanently injured his spine fixing a friend's car in 1937.  He underwent multiple surgical procedures and spent the rest of his life in severe pain.  In later life, Patchen created may of his painted poems while confined to bed because of his back surgeries.  
Patchen's first book of poetry, Before the Brave, was published by Random House when he was 25.  His Collected Poems was published in 1969 when he was 58.  Patchen was friends with James Laughlin, e.e. cummings,  and Kenneth Rexroth.  Patchen influenced both Allen Ginsberg and Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

Many of Patchen's creative works blurred the lines between poetry, painting and jazz.  He collaborated with jazz bassist and composer Charles Mingus.  

Here is Kenneth Patchen reading his poem, In Order To.

Monday, August 4, 2014

George Bellows

"The ideal artist is he who knows everything, feels everything, experiences everything, and retains his experience in a spirit of wonder and feeds upon it with creative lust."

American Painter
1882 - 1925

Anne in White
Do you experience the world in a spirit of wonder?  Are you surprised by the things that happen or have you become cynical and negative?  A creative leader must be like a young child soaking up life and enjoying every moment of it.  Everything that happens to us — good, bad and indifferent — is fuel for our creative lust.  I don't believe artists and writers experience the world at a deeper level then other people.  It's more they have learned to use that experience to feed their creativity.

Creativity is both sexual and sensuous. When we are painting and writing, we have a deep desire to create, to give birth.  We can feel the lust in our loins, the joy in our hearts.  How powerful is your desire to create?  Can you feel it deep within your body?  Does every part of you tingle with excitement?  Can you taste the lips of your lover?

George Bellows, an only child, was born four years after his parents married and was raised in Columbus, Ohio.  His love of drawing was kindled because he was not allowed to play outside on Sundays.  His mother did allow him to draw while she read the Bible aloud.

Dempsey and Firpo
Bellows attended Ohio State University and played on both the baseball and basketball teams.  He was considered good enough to play professionally, but he turned down a professional baseball contract.  He worked as a commercial illustrator while a student and accepted magazine assignments throughout his life.  His true love was painting so he quit school and moved to New York to study art under Robert Henri at the New York School of Art.  Edward Hopper and Rockwell Kent were fellow students

In 1910 Bellows married Emma Story in St. George's Episcopal Church.  They had two children.  Bellows died of a ruptured appendix at the early age of 43.

George Bellows was a realistic painter known for his bold depictions of urban life as well as portraits.  By the age of thirty his work hung in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  He is ranked as one of the giants of American art.

Here is a video discussion of the boxing paintings of George Bellows.