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Art in the Cracks of the Day

Driving Under the Influence of Poetry

Scribbling on scraps of paper
On the seat next to me

As my car sails down
The freeways.

Words tumbling out
Around that sharp turn.

Poems dashed off at stop lights
They will not wait for me
To sit politely at a desk.

Poems on the run.
No speed limit for them.

They race in my head
As I keep one eye on the road.

Few know of these dangers.
So, watch out for the drivers
With a pen in their hand
And a poem in their heart.


-Pamela McCauley

Pamela is a reader in the Seattle area and she sent me a couple of her lovely poems last week and I especially loved the imagery of this one.  I deeply admire people who can juggle busy lives and still make space for art in the cracks of the day.  I have made choices about lifestyle, children, and work that allow me to have a lot of space for creative expression.  I have never been one of those people who could write a novel in the early morning hours before heading off to a full-time job, or like Pamela, raise five children and still catch poetry as it sails past her car on the road. 

This speaks to me though, in a very moving way, of how we all nurture our creativity in different ways depending on our life contexts and circumstances.  I am aware that my life is a privilege, one I have made sacrifices for, but also not the right life for others who may be longing for creative expression.  So while I often think of part of my calling as witnessing to a different way of being in the world, one that is more spacious and slow, I also recognize and honor the ways creativity can flourish in all kinds of circumstances.  Indeed, I believe that all of life can be an act of creative expression and art-making, but often in those little spaces and cracks of the day, especially when we engage in a repetitive movement like driving or showering, inspiration blossoms.  For myself, I find walking to be an essential practice to nurture my creativity in large part because it allows me to let go of all the thinking that often gets in the way of my creative work and process.

What are the cracks of your day where art bubbles up and you are invited to listen to the images being birthed within you despite the busyness of the world?

-Christine Valters Paintner @ Abbey of the Arts

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6 Responses

  1. Thanks for the great sharing here in the comments!

    Me, I like your definition of artist as “someone for whom the need to create is overwhelming and necessary.” I love too that you find ways to share the cracks with your girls.

    Suz, how wonderful that you bead, I had no idea that you showed your work. I’d love to see a photo if you have one!

    Pam, I appreciate what you added about creating more space in your life to allow for even the cracks to unfold creatively and that you listened well when your life became a “to-do” list — yikes! :-)

    Welcome M Ali and thanks for taking the time to comment.

  2. Thank you for your poetry. Your voice is appreciated. Insha’Allah, there will be many readers who identify with your struggle to use the limited opportunities afforded by Fate to explore a self that may have grown accustomed to being submerged in service to others.

  3. I am the “stoplight poet” that did the poem for today. I feel very honored to have it on the blog since I have only shown my poems to friends and family…. so you can never know whether their compliments may be tainted by “trying to be nice”. I wanted to add here that my poetry did not really come prolifically until I made some conscious changes in my life to allow me to slow down. It may sound like my pace is still fast, but I remember saying to my husband a few years ago that “My life is a to-do list”, then it turned into “I am a to-do list.” At that point, I knew I needed some changes. It is such a delight to me now to be open to the poetry that comes. It has been healing in many ways to find this voice of mine.

  4. My “art” is beading and some other jewelry skills thrown in. I usually bead like mad before a show…and end up feeling like a beading machine. This year, I moved my beads to my bedroom…poor husband…instead of the creepy basement and I am having so much joy creating. I am “producing’ only about one thing a day but it is something different and special and I am taking a lot of joy in color.

    So, when the show is over, I hope to continue to do this on a more regular basis…not daily…but maybe a couple of times a week.

    It gives me such joy to mix color and texture and size and have it all come together and make a statement of some kind…must be akin to how it feels to you poets!

  5. For some reason, this poem reminds me of a book I own about writing poetry called ‘Poemcrazy: Freeing Your Life with Words’ by Susan G. Wooldridge. It is a great book to get me going when I’ve let my writing lapse and want to get it moving again.

    I wasn’t ‘allowed’ to be artistic as a child. My Mom encouraged it but because I was an excellent student and because I am often a late bloomer (my artistic ability as a child was not as great as some of my classmates) I was expected to take all the smart kid classes and do smart kid things which does not include art.

    In other words, I did not know I was an artist until a few years ago. By artist I mean someone for whom the need to create is overwhelming and necessary. It has only been a few months that I’ve allowed myself to say “I am an artist.”

    It means that sometimes I am a cranky Mom because I need quiet and I need time alone. A lot of it.

    I get up early (sometimes as early as four) and the girls take naps, those are huge cracks. I also have cracks that I can share with the girls. Long walks, the garden, thrifting excursions, and books are a few of them. It sounds like I have a lot of cracks but in honesty, I could spend the biggest part of weeks alone and be content with seeing my husband and church members and make occasional outings to visit friends. To have the girls with me 24/7 is hard. I think it is for most SAHM’s but I don’t handle it is as well as I should sometimes.

    I had a wise photographer friend who told me that it is good. He said it is good for children to grow up with a parent who has passions apart from them. They learn a great deal from the experience and he gave me examples of him and his own wife.

    So yeah, I am cracked. ;)