Artistry and Ego

In my opinion, artists (this encompasses all the arts), walk hand-in-hand with Self-doubt, Self-critic and Ego. They’re numbers one, two, and three on your friends list and they NEVER go away.

Artists, in truth, are solitary creatures. The writer/poet who spends much of their time with a computer or notebook. The artist that works hours Writing_girlon end with brush, hands, camera, etc. The dancer who works alone incessantly in the studio. The actor who studies and memorizes their lines behind closed doors.  The composer/musician with just an instrument and paper. The designer that works solo at drafting table, cutting table, the darkened theatre, a computer. Some may have a team, or troupe, or ensemble, or critique group, but the bottom line is, those of us who strive to express ourselves through artistry, are ultimately alone with our craft.

With the exception of our three friends.

actorThere is always that niggling Self-doubt. What if I’m not good enough? What if they don’t like my story/poem, song, painting, design, performance, etc? What if I never realize my dream?

Or, the nasty Self-critic. It tells  you you’re not good enough. It tells you your story/poem, song painting, design, performance, etc. sucks! It tells you you’ll never realize your dream.

Then there’s Ego, and it can go many ways. Ego can be your detriment:dancer

I’m good enough, there’s no way they won’t like my (fill in the blank). This (fill in the blank) is awesome! It’ll become the next greatest (fill in the blank).

Pride goeth before the fall. You get bad reviews, or your work doesn’t sell, your performance was flat, or others in your craft are disparaging and you get sucked down into a black pit of despair at which time Self-doubt and Self-critic become your BFFs.

Or, Ego can be your savior:

designSomeone liked my (fill in the blank)! If I reach, touch, inspire, entertain someone, even one person with my (fill in the blank), it’s all worth it. I think this (fill in the blank) is awesome, I hope others will too.

Not setting yourself up for the fall, you get mixed reviews, or your work doesn’t sell as well as expected, but does sell, your performance mediocre, but acceptable, or others in your craft are disparaging, but not harsh, and you don’t let it get you down even though Self-doubt and Self-critic are still on your friends list.

Or, Ego let’s you get silly or obnoxious:composer

I’m on top of the world! Take that nay sayers, I did it! Yippee!! My (fill in the blank) is awesome! My (fill in the blank) rocked! OMG, I hope this lasts. What (fill in the blank) do I do next? Can I top that? Can I at least maintain my artistry?

Feeling good and still on your feet. You get rave reviews, your work sells, you get standing ovations, you’re written up in articles, etc., others in your craft are encouraging/supportive/disparaging depending on their own egos, and YES, Self-doubt and Self-critic are still your friends.

artBecause, they are ALWAYS there for the artist.

For me, I’ve gone through all of it. Most of the time privately, because that’s the way I am. However, I can only go so long before it boils over or oozes out. I have a voice that smacks my friend Ego every time it gets out of hand, but that’s another topic. I’m not sure it’s a good or bad thing, because that same voice doesn’t throw down with Self-doubt and Self-critic and maybe it should. I’ve been sharing company with the two of them a little too much lately.

How about you? Do you have ways of reigning in these things or do you let them run rampant? Are these miscreants on your friends list?

HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY!

St Pat's

May your day be filled with love and laughter

and may all your dreams come true

 may it be what you’re runnin’ after

is the best thing ever for you.

Lá Fhéile Pádraig sona ~ Happy St. Patrick’s Day ~ RG

17 The Paddy Settriskele.2

Ireland’s Shore

Happy St. Patrick's Day!Before I ever visited Ireland, I wrote a poem about it. This was many years before I sat foot on Ireland’s Shore.  The irony of this poem is that it came to me in a dream, and the ending is very much how I felt when I left Ireland twenty years later. My children drew my back to America, but Ireland calls to me still.

 

Is féidir teacht ar do aisling fíor. – May your dreams come true. – RG

Ireland’s Shore

 

Warm fire upon the ocean

Cool stars up in the sky

Arms reach out to enfold her

Draw her near to Ireland’s shore.

 

Strong oak all but forgotten

Ghosts on the barren, rock strewn land

Call her name, but just a whisper

Draw her near to Ireland’s shore.

 

Soft mist entwines the cliffs

The harp sounds low and sweet

Whispers echoed by pipe and flute

Draw her near to Ireland’s shore.

 

Pulsing tempo of the music

Her heart quickens to the beat

Sings to her a song of yearning

Draw her near to Ireland’s shore.

Bards and poets call to her

Their voices plead incessantly

Stir the longings of her soul

Ever nearer to Ireland’s shore.

 

Firm earth beneath her feet

This moment long awaited

Standing on ancestral ground

Finally reaching Ireland’s shore.

 

She feels the ages light a flame

The passion flows, in her ancestral blood

Tales of ancient days

Hold her fast to Ireland’s shore.

 

Bright the dawn, sad the morn

Tears course and tear her soul

She bids farewell with one last glance

So disappears Ireland’s shore.

© Ireland’s Shore – copywrite – RG Calkins 1978

A Wee Bit of ‘Grave’ Irish Humor

skeleton St. Pat'sOkay. This is going to be a wee bit of shameless, self promotion. I’ve written several short stories and I would like to share one with you here.  It’s dark humor, which I hope you enjoy.

If you like dark, horror, paranormal, you can find this story, three more of mine, and many more author’s stories, in the Darker Times Anthology, Volumes One and Two. They’re available on Amazon.com US and UK (links will be provided below). The full poem, The Gravedigger’s Song, featured in this story, will be published in the Darker Times poetry and flash fiction anthology, which will be available later this year.

There, that’s it for the promotion bit. On with the story.

The Gravedigger ~ RG Calkins

Jack Sullivan strides across the cemetery lawn, shovel slung on his shoulder, a lantern swings from his hand. He sings a tune not known to most.

            When I was young my elders said,

            Don’t walk on graves, disturb the dead.

            This sounded strange, I questioned not

            Tiptoed ‘round each crypt and plot.

            The dead don’t mind if you dance on their bones

            They’re covered o’re with earth and stones

            None reside b’neath the ground

            Their souls are free, no longer bound.

     He reaches his destination and tips his cap. “Ah, now, Mr. Stewart. ‘Twas a nice service here today was it not?”

     “What was that bizarre lay you were bellowing?”

     Jack chuckles. “One passed from me grandda to me da to me.”

     Stewart huffs. “It’s irreverent and disrespectful.”

     Jack shoves his shovel into the pile of dirt at his feet. “Aye, to some ‘tis, but most folk laughs at it.”

     “That’s preposterous.”

     Jack continues to shovel steadily. “‘Tis the truth of it.”

     A woman approaches. Her pasty face sour and gait purposeful.

     Jack stops and tips his cap to her. “Evenin’ Mrs. O’Connor. Come to pay your respects have you?”

     “I’ve come to spit on t’ bastard’s remains, I have.” She comes closer and hawks a gob of spit toward the dirt.

     “Ah now, Missus is that any way to be?” Jack scoops more dirt in.

     “He was a thievin’ son of a whore.” She points a bony finger at him. “You know the truth of it Jack Sullivan.”

     “Aye, I know it well.” He says to the woman’s retreating back.

     “What a course and bitter woman.”

     Jack distributes more soil into the hole. “As you say, Mr. Stewart.” He pauses only to light his lantern.

Stewart squints into the dying light. “Sullivan, do you see that man striding toward us?”

“Aye, sir, I do.”

     “Is it All Hallows? He appears to have on a costume.”

     Jack peers at the young man. “Nay, ‘tisn’t Samhain and he’s not wearin’ a costume.”

     “By God, man,” Stewart exclaims, “then the boy’s been shot.”

     Jack, unconcerned, removes a flask from the back pocket of his pants. “Aye, I b’lieve he has.” He takes a pull from the pint size container.

     “Good evenin’ gents.” The lad says with a slight bow.

     Jack holds out the tin. “Nice to see you Finn, care for a drink?”

     “Ah, now, Mr. Sullivan, I can’t accept your hospitality, but I appreciate the thought.”

     Stewart looks appalled. “You, lad, go along to the hospital.”

     Finn’s pale face turns to Stewart. “There’s naught they can do for me, sir.” He peers at the now filled grave. “For him neither.” Finn throws his head back and howls with laughter as he takes his leave.

     “Mr. Sullivan, I think there is something amiss here.”

     Jack raises his eyebrows. “How do you mean, sir?”

     Stewart makes a grand gesture. “Why are all these people milling about a graveyard after dark?”

     Jack follows his gaze. “Because it’s their home.”

Stewart’s eyes are wide with fright. “Let us flee, man.” His voice quavers. “These apparitions may mean to do us harm.”

     Jack grins at Mr. Stewart. “I’ll be goin’ now, but as for you . . .” the sound of metal against stone draws Stewart’s attention.

     Stewart stares in disbelief at the newly chiseled headstone.

     “Good night, Mr. Stewart and welcome home.”

     Jack slings his shovel to its perch, picks up his lantern and crosses the turf.

            It occurred to me that ev’ry day.

            We walk the crust of death’s decay.

            It’s futile to pick up your feet,

Irish Graveyard

            When everywhere a corpse they meet.

           The dead don’t mind if you dance on their bones

            They’re covered o’re with earth and stones

            None reside b’neath the ground

            Their souls are free, no longer bound.

© Copywrite- The Gravedigger, RG Calkins, 2012

Is féidir leat rince! – May you dance! ~ RG

Now for those links (right click and select ‘go to address’ or copy and paste the link into the search bar):

US

Vol. 1 – http://www.amazon.com/Darker-Times-Anthology-Volume-One/dp/1481000985/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1363042840&sr=8-1&keywords=jessica+grace+coleman+darker+times+anthology

Vol. 2 – http://www.amazon.com/Darker-Times-Anthology-Volume-Two/dp/1481971727/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1363042840&sr=8-2&keywords=jessica+grace+coleman+darker+times+anthology

UK

Vol. 1 – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Darker-Times-Anthology-Volume-One/dp/1481000985/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1363042718&sr=8-3

Vol. 2 – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Darker-Times-Anthology-Volume-Two/dp/1481971727/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1363042718&sr=8-1

W. B. Yeats

WB YeatsMore than a few years back, I visited Ireland. While there, we stumbled upon the churchyard where W. B. Yeats is buried. I love graveyards and this was one of the most unique I’ve ever explored. But, enough about that.

My post today is in celebration of one of my favorite poets–W. B. Yeats. And, in particular, a favorite poem of mine.

The Stolen Child

Where dips the rocky highland
Of Sleuth Wood in the lake,
There lies a leafy island
Where flapping herons wake
The drowsy water rats;
There we’ve hid our faery vats,
Full of berrys
And of reddest stolen cherries.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.

Where the wave of moonlight glosses
The dim gray sands with light,
Far off by furthest Rosses
We foot it all the night,
Weaving olden dances
Mingling hands and mingling glances
Till the moon has taken flight;
To and fro we leap
And chase the frothy bubbles,
While the world is full of troubles
And anxious in its sleep.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.

Where the wandering water gushes
From the hills above Glen-Car,
In pools among the rushes
That scarce could bathe a star,
We seek for slumbering trout
And whispering in their ears
Give them unquiet dreams;
Leaning softly out
From ferns that dropp their tears
Over the young streams.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.

Away with us he’s going,
The solemn-eyed:
He’ll hear no more the lowing
Of the calves on the warm hillside
Or the kettle on the hob
Sing peace into his breast,
Or see the brown mice bob
Round and round the oatmeal chest.
For he comes, the human child,
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than he can understand.

William Butler Yeats
dancing fairies w.child

Besides the poem, I also wanted to provide a musical version of it. 12 The Stolen Child This is by The Waterboys, and has a place in my St. Patrick’s Day playlist.

Mise I dán agus ceol ~ Yours in poem and music ~ RG

To Rhyme, or not to Rhyme-Do you have poetic tendencies?

I’ve been having a bout of poetry lately. It may not be a real illness, but my brain wants to rhyme, or not, and it happens at odd times. I’ve taken to carrying a notebook around in case something pops in my head while I’m doing laundry.

I’m not prepared to share any of my latest regurgitations at this time. However, I will–in the future. I like to let my poetry stew a little, then I go back and look at it again. I’ll take it to one of my critique groups. When I feel it’s ready to be viewed by the public, you’ll see it.

poe

Poe is one of my favorite poets. I like his stories too. Yes, creepy. Yes, weird. Yes, I’m demented. Maybe that’s why my latest issue has been on the dark side. Get ready-bwahahahaha.

What I’d really like to know is if any of you have poetic tendencies?

I would love to see a haiku or a few rhyming couplets or free verse posted in comments.

Come on. You can do it.

Serious or silly.

If you do, I will too ~ RG

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