The Prompter Room

For Tuesday, June 6, 2017:


Nothing else does quite as much [as imagination] for most people, not even the other arts.  We are a wordy species.  Words are the wings both intellect and imagination fly on.  Music, dance, visual arts, crafts of all kinds, all are central to human development and well-being, and no art or skill is ever useless learning; but to train the mind to take off from immediate reality and return to it with new understanding and new strength, nothing quite equals poem and story.

Ursula LeGuin





The Prompter Room

For Tuesday, April 5, 2016:


“Works of art make rules; rules do not make works of art.”

Claude Debussy

” … The rules on what is possible and impossible in the arts were made by people who had not tested the bounds of the possible by going beyond them … If you don’t know it’s impossible, it’s easier to do …”


We writers, artists, and poets live and work in a good time nowadays.  Compared to the rules and traditional ways of doing things with which I grew up, almost anything goes today.  With the electronic resources we have at our disposal, we are able to share our work with a worldwide audience that artists couldn’t begin to imagine 20-30 years ago.

No longer do we face the same ‘industry’ constraints many of us expected and followed when we started out.  Thanks to this medium in which I write this moment and you’re reading, I believe blogs were the advent of this new freedom.  Because it was then harder to decide what was considered published work – were ezines ‘real’ magazines, for instance, were poems in a blog a collection equivalent to a chapbook? – it’s become gradually more acceptable to self-publish.

It’s not a taboo subject anymore.  We don’t have to whisper the possibility.  Rather than vanity publishing, the general feeling now is that print-on-demand is not only better for the environment, POD publishing allows us to share with an audience that was denied most of us coming up, and – this is important – it gives the artist much more creative control of the finished product.

We still have to do the work, of course, and I believe we owe it to our audiences to ensure it’s the best work of which we’re capable.  At the same time, our new freedom allows us to push on those old boundaries, to expand them to become more and more welcoming.

Even Emily Dickinson could see it.  Back in the mid-1800s, she wrote ‘The Possible’s slow fuse is lit by the Imagination.’  Nowadays there’s no telling where our collective imagination will take us and the possibilities that await us.

The Prompter Room

For Sunday, March 13, 2016:


“Go into the arts.  I’m not kidding.  The arts are not a way to make a living.  They are a very human way of making life more bearable.  Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake.  Sing in the shower.  Dance to the radio.  Tell stories.  Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem.  Do it as well as you possibly can.  You will get an enormous reward.  You will have created something.”

Kurt Vonnegut

Well, there you have it: ‘for heaven’s sake.’

Yes, practicing an art makes our souls grow, but it does more than that, as wonderful as that is.  Writing a poem, painting a picture or photographing one, singing, dancing, and so much more, makes heaven grow!

The theologian in me believes that God created us, humankind, in his and her image, and that generous spirit thus invites us to be co-creators through our art.  Longtime followers here know how important hospitality is for me – with others and in our writing.  I believe, then, that the Creator’s invitation to participate in acts of creation, too, however grand or small they may be, is one of great love and hospitality.  We are welcomed into the creative process.  We are encouraged in that process.  How can our souls do anything but grow in such an environment, such a practice?

Whether Vonnegut intended those three little words in the way I take them or not, I’ll never know.  If he didn’t – if he meant them in the same way as ‘I’m not kidding’ – I’m glad he included them, for I think he found the crux of the matter anyway.  We are to create for heaven’s sake, and for the world’s sake, and for ours.

When we accept that arms-wide-open, generous, loving, and creative invitation, I can see the eyes of heaven smile inside our souls.  I can even feel it.  Can’t you?