where our best art comes from

image by Rimel Neffati

Happy Monday, my friend. Today is a holiday in the U.S. and I will soon be doing all the holiday things: sipping fresh coffee and reading lazily through the glum sweet gray clouded morning, boating and drinking wine in the afternoon, and curling up to a campfire in the evening.

But before I get to such delicious holiday things, I wanted to take a minute to share the work of an artist I cannot get enough of lately, Rimel Neffati. Her works (see examples above and below) are incredible, haunting, sheer poetry. I have long been fascinated by poetry of the word as well as poetry of image, there is a connection between them somewhere — there is some inexplicable thread that makes one somehow mysteriously like the other, though they are distinctly different artistic mediums.

I think that thread, slender as it may be, is silence. A beautiful image, to me, is robust with an other-worldly silence. It blooms into a silent place inside you, almost without breath or movement, and fully without struggle. It is an effortless silence which reaches out, hooks itself to you and draws you in.

“Silence is the only true poetry,”  I wrote in Luminae and I believe it so completely. We artists long to inhabit a silent thing, an elusive kind of love/pain/longed-for thing we cannot ultimately name. It is that silence, that empty space which begs us in constant to uncover the words it already contains, the images it already imagines.

Perhaps this week we take extra time to give the silence a chance to speak. We meditate, we disconnect, we unplug, we stop trying to force our creativity and instead we sink into the silence that is always there, behind everything, and just breathe.

image by Rimel Neffati

I have often said that the best writing advice I can ever give anyone, especially my beloved kindred poets, is to write from the feeling, not about it.  Do not be on the sidelines, do not be outside the house of your pain or joy looking in describing it, but rather be inside that house, inside that experience, deep inside. Go inside the silence, and write and create from inside that place.

Readers know the difference. You know the difference. When the writer or the artist is fully immersed in the secret silent world of feeling, what comes forth is the essence of that magical space beyond words, beyond images. A truly gifted artist becomes that silence, and then brings it rushing, gliding, humming, pulsing to the surface.

Poetry that speaks deeply to us, whether of word or image, all begins in silent space, in emptiness, in freedom. May we dare go silent and approach it with reverence.


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