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CZ.com | Poetics | Notes Toward a Preface to A Portrait to Paradise
 

4. Notes Toward a Preface to A PORTRAIT TO PARADISE

     Sometimes the subject is perception; and the theme is the question of life. How is it we are able to live, to go on living, and how does our living end? And perspective. Is that from the perspective of my body, which is at once characterized by being mortal and female—as well as being capable of feeling desire, pleasure, pain?

     For the artist the task is to render, with as little artifice as possible, the actual experience. From my discussions with Anne Popperwell, the West Coast landscape painter, I have learned that the impetus for painting landscapes is the search for a human place in the seeming impersonality of the universe. To render means 'to make visible' and 'to give in return.' It affirms both the physical and the metaphysical presence, present.

     This Preface has been subject to growth and to change. It began in November of 1981 and I could say it became complete in the spring of 1983. Even at that, it is not very long and what it has to say is perhaps overstated or understated. For the poet, the task is to render, with as little artifice as possible, the actual experience. After nearly twenty years of writing poetry that line comes closest to expressing the impetus for writing.

     And perspective. Point of view certainly has something to do with perception. From when I started writing this Preface to now I have learned to begin life anew. But point of view—whether I love and am loved in return; or whether I am sick rather than healthy; or whether I am happy rather than unhappy; or whatever my political perspective, the trick is to render, with as little artifice as possible. Trick. Is it a trick, this being able to see, to perceive, and to make from the perception a poem or painting that expresses, without artifice, experience? I used to going ice-skating with my children until one day I was sick and I had to watch from the stands. How different the experience was, sitting and watching the skaters circle around the arena, when previously I was among those gliding over the ice in time to the music, weaving in and out between slower skaters, participating rather than observing.

     Of course, the images come from experience as much as from perspective or perception. Cezanne said: "One minute in the life of the world is going by. Paint it as it is." This Preface began in the fall of an entirely different year. During that time the perspective has changed and perception has been altered. But the question—I believe the question remains the same. And the task—the task is still at hand and the rendering will not be complete until the experiencing of life is complete. The task, for the poet, is to render the actual experience with as little artifice as possible. Matisse, speaking of his art, said "Above all, I do not create a woman, I make a picture."

  Carolyn Zonailo
Vancouver, B.C., Canada
1983

Copyright by Carolyn Zonailo: www.carolynzonailo.com, 2004

 
 
CZ.com | Poetics | Notes Toward a Preface to A Portrait to Paradise
 
 
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