The US Poet Laureate
I’m sure people wonder why I like to write. I’m sure people wonder because they ask me. They ask me what I want to do, and I tell them I want to write, and they ask me what I want to write, and I tell them I want to write about what I see, and they give me this look like “What does that mean?” and I don’t know how to explain it very well.
I catches glimpses of the explanation though. I see it being done. Occasionally, a character on a TV show or movie will race by the explanation and give it a high five on his or her way to a narrative conclusion.
I just watched an episode of The West Wing which guest stars Laura Dern (Jurassic Park) as the newly named US Poet Laureate. I big part of the episode circles around her desire to speak out against the use of land mines. Eventually we find out that she once witnessed a little boy being blown up by a long-forgotten land mine he hooked on his fishing line, and so she wants to tell people about the dangers these discarded weapons create.
Toby Ziegler, the White House Communication Director, thinks that what the poet wants to tell the world is the truth. She contends that it’s not the truth that she wants to tell but only what she has seen. She says, “An artist’s job is to captivate you for however long we’ve asked for your attention. If we stumble into truth, we got lucky, and I don’t get to decide what truth is…” She then asks for a meeting with the president so she can tell him what she has seen.
And that’s it. That’s a pretty good description of what I want to do. I want to tell people about what I see. I might disagree with Laura’s character a little (or I guess with Aaron Sorkin, the writer of the show) in her saying that the truth is incidental. I am deeply concerned with the truth. I chase the truth with abandon, but I agree with Sorkin that my job as a writer is to tell the world what I see. I agree with him that the truth is there in the telling. We do stumble into it.
I want to tell the world what I see, and I want to see things worth telling about. I want to see the broken, hurting, wrong things of the world that need to be made right. I want to captivate you for as long as you let me and in that captivation capture your heart to love our world better, to make things right.
I want all things right, and writing is my way of working for all things right. Even as I type that I think how ridiculous it is. What good does writing do? I don’t know, but it’s the task assigned to me. I’ll let my Boss decide what good the work assigned to me does. I’m honored to have a job. My Boss, above all things, likes all things write.
Um. I mean, right.
Gene Kelly Was Here
These blog posts were all written in the summer of 2011. They chronicle my time in Paris completing an internship as part of my studies at Fuller Seminary. I worked at an art gallery run by missionary-artists ministering to other Parisian artists and got to know the missionary-artists working there.
I am including them here for you to read because I think they work well together as a series. I wrote them as a kind of narrative collage about what it means to be a practicing artist whose first commitment is to Christ and who seeks to share the love of Christ with other artists.