This Author’s Statement on Beauty

Wren on May 20th, 2017

Of course peacock shoelaces exist. Who says the fall of empire won't have (slave-made) flair?

Peacock Journal is dedicated to the theme of beauty. It was a challenge to find old poems of mine that study beauty. I’m more of a poet for picking a beautiful object and turning it as much as I have to to find its underside. Then I say, “See, told ya.”

I was so concerned that my submission would not match the theme well that I tried to write a poem about something beautiful without looking for the underside. The result is Emperor of Nimshew, or for my underside fans, At the Lonely Gravel End. Of course, I have extra underside stanzas all planned out. But…

Happily, I recently learned that Peacock Journal accepted Emperor and three of my old poems!

With each group of poems, they also publish an “Author’s Statement on Beauty.” Again, I wondered if I would offend fans of beauty with my curmudgeonly diatribe against rainbows and daisies. After hours of ramblings and takebacks on paper, pacing, and computer drafts, I’m actually pleased with my result. I think I manage to make my point without shaming the positivity set too much:

To me, truth is the deeper beauty. Sometimes I sit in the fire and sometimes I sit in the garden. I am often concerned that friends use soothing concepts like beauty and positivity as hiding places, deflecting shards of reality rather than coping or taking action. We might all seek a hiding place from today’s twenty-four hour news cycle, and the feeling that there’s no cure for the greed, vanity, and brutality displayed there.

Sitting in the fire, I try to be present with life’s ugliness in order to move through it, rather than around it. Then, when I sit in the garden, being present with sensory beauty all around me is an easy, organic process. I never wonder about the purpose of beauty. It just is, like death and traffic and buzzing silence.

For my poetry, I make lists of “shiny things,” the mundane and random details of my days. I populate my poems with these. I adore the beauty in my goat Rye dancing, the fringe of pine needles hanging in my manzanita tree, and a website dedicated to artful, competitive shoelace tying. It’s the micro and the macro, the tiny details drawing my eye to universal truths, that I find beautiful, destructive, and true. At the end of my day, I love beauty, and find reason to look truth in the eye.

Facebook meme I spotted after first posting this.

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