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Poetics | Poetics | Epistle to a Friend

8. Epistle to a Friend

     In the beginning I had a passion for poetry—for words, rhythm, images, patterns of language. And a deep, consuming passion for nature, for the natural landscape. And desire, a passion for the body and its pleasure.

     But we grow older, we change. We change in our perception and in our knowledge and in how we feel as grow older—we change more than we can ever imagine we will change when we are still young. Mid-life. I am right in the middle—my youth recently over; my middle years just beginning. A publication, of fifteen years worth of published work. I've been writing for almost thirty years and publishing for half that. In the middle. And it is not the same as the beginning—does one lose the passion?

     What am I passionate about now? The craft. A poetics. The individual ineffable poem, rather than poetry. I still respond to landscape, to the variety and beauty of nature, but I'm not as passionate about landscape anymore. I am, however, infinitely more interested in human nature. I am passionate about gaining wisdom, about the gift of human life. And I am devoted to love—to loving as nurturing, sustained compassion. I have become, perhaps, compassionate rather than passionate. I am moved by the poem, the individual creative effort in its totality: craft and vision, language and content, poetic essence. I am intensely involved in the study of human nature, and the revelationary element of wisdom. I am compassionate in outlook; not drawn forward so much by desire, as in my youth, but by curiosity and wonderment and the humility of love. Whereas I used to love poetry, I now love the poem. In the way I once loved nature, I now love human nature. Passion used to propel me forward in poetry, compassion now compels me to keep writing. Because in the writing, there remains the act of discovery.

     So the question—have I stopped feeling passion—is answered. No. I have not stopped feeling passion, but what I feel passion toward has changed. Not the feeling, but the object, the other, toward which my feelings are directed. The shift has occurred not so much in feelings, but there is a definite change in where those feelings are directed; or in what engenders those feelings.

     From being a landscapist, I am now becoming a portraitist. From being a passionate young female poet, I am now becoming a compassionate mid-career poet (where gender does not seem as important). It is the art that interests me, not the event— i.e., not poetry per se, but the poem—a poetics—a vision incarnate in the craft. That blend of art and wisdom, vision and craft, language and artifact, observation and experience, passion and compassion: the created utterance—the poem.

  Carolyn Zonailo
Vancouver, B.C., Canada

Copyright by Carolyn Zonailo:, 2004 | Poetics | Epistle to a Friend
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There is a quality in her work which makes all her poems hers, but Zonailo’s style does differ. Compendium is a collection of short, lyrical poetry; Zone 5 of prose. Each book is an extension of her poetic exploration and a separate expression.
Over the years of sitting in Grant's Cafe or the Europa and talking poetry with Lewis Gretsinger, the questions have been asked: why write? what are you saying? what are your poetics?
Last Will and Testament
I give my soul to God.
I give my body to the earth.
I give my poems to posterity.
I give my spirit to tolerance.
I give my mind to the future.
Forthcoming Titles
The Land of Motionless ChildhoodThe Land of Motionless Childhood is a memoir of short stories by Carolyn Zonailo about growing up in Vancouver, and her Doukhobor heritage.
Photo Gallery
CZPictures of CZ from her 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s.
Literary Papers
Spanning the years 1955 to 2005, the Carolyn Zonailo Papers holds, as nearly as possible, a currently complete collection of Zonailo's extant literary papers.
CZ Go to the Top of the Page.
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