Friday, July 17, 2009

14) fashion and soccer and poetry




the literary life 7/17/09

I do think fashion designing and poetry writing have something in common. I confess to having watched shows like Project Runway and The Fashion Show on Bravo. I always feel I can relate to the designers as a poet. They have a similar aesthetic sense--a kind of whimsical approach to their work. The model glides down the runway wearing a finished design, which needs to stand on its own, just like a poem needs to stand on its own. Poetry, like fashion, is about mood, tone, imagery, and color. One out of place word or one out of place stitch, and the entire piece can seem lacking. Detail is critical as is perfectionism, for better or worse. Designers presenting their signature collections on the runway is similar to poets presenting a collection of their work. There needs to be a sense of continuity, a vision, an artist's point of view.

I also think soccer and poetry have something in common in spirit. I first began watching soccer during the 1994 World Cup. I was visiting Lahore, Pakistan, and my Uncle Asad (God bless his soul) would stay up late watching the matches. His infectious enthusiasm for the sport rubbed off on me. In soccer, sometimes we the viewers have to wait an entire game to see a single goal scored. At first I was bored. Later, I began to enjoy the skill of the atheletes, kicking a ball down the field. I began to see a kind of poetry there, especially when exceptional skill was evident. What's poetic about the art of soccer is the rhythm, the passion, and the effort. Poetry, like soccer, is fleeting but hard work.

I guess I'm realizing that poetry, as an art, has much in common with other pursuits--be it design, sports, painting, or cooking. I baked a batch of vanilla cupcakes the other day, and I felt it then too, the sweet joy that comes from finishing a small but involved task--like writing an honest poem. Maybe it's about concentration and paying attention. Maybe it's about the little things--a hem on a dress, a corner kick, a few lines scribbled in an old notebook. Some might argue that poetry is a marginalized art. And maybe, strictly speaking, the audience for poetry will always be a small yet devoted group. Still I believe that those of us who are devoted to a vision--a creative act--practice poetry in our daily lives.

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