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
Vancouver, B.C., Canada
Copyright by Carolyn Zonailo: www.carolynzonailo.com,