There is a saying most of us know, practice makes perfect. Perhaps it was our Victorian ancestors that dreamed up this saying, to promote good behavior and prolong suffering. Practice makes better, more skilled, but not perfect. Perfect is a faraway, abstract and even heartless idea. There is nothing compelling or alive about perfect. Practice is full of mistakes, of plunging in, and being willing to fail and learn. As Greg Boyle once said: "Anything worth pursuing is worth failing at." And that is worth thinking about.
You can stumble and still be forgiven
– William Stafford
Everything is practice makes sense. I just discovered, while studying this last month with our American poet, Marie Howe, that Emily Dickinson did not see any of her poems as "final". She kept the handwritten versions beneath her bed, full of alternate words. They were on scraps of paper and envelopes. Another poet, Susan Howe, has written extensively on this aspect of Emily's work. The visuals of her "alternate words" at the bottom of a poem, with small "+" signs and her distinct handwriting is an exhilarating discovery.... the dance between the visual and the verbal in poetry making. But that will be another post....Read More