Back at last! Thanks so much for your patience :-)

English: What kind of poem did Hafez make?

English: What kind of poem did Hafez make? (Photo credit: Wikipedia) – or ‘HOW TO DESTROY AN AESTHETIC EXPERIENCE’

Hi there guys! Thanks so much for sticking around and I’m sorry that I haven’t been able to check in on this site and to update it at all over the last few weeks.

A lot has been happening at an internal and even at an external-skin level. I want to share stuff about mental health recovery with you from a first person experience perspective; I also, however, want to share other stuff with you that I’m excited about.

Today I’m excited about a find I’ve made : a guy called Eli Siegal, born 1902, died 1978, ‘founded the philosophy of Aesthetic Realism‘ and wrote a mind blowingly brilliant poem (in my eyes/mind) called ‘Hot Afternoons Have Been in Montana‘ around 1924, for which he won a prestigious award in 1925. I won’t bore you with details, you can find them on Wikipedia if you are interested. I’m not bored by the details because as I began to read my heart leapt – and this is why:

The article about Siegal, his life and his theory of Aesthetic Realism somewhat reminded  me of my claims in previous years, first that my two daughters were  my ‘best poems‘ (in process) and second that

‘I used to paint portraits of people with chalks and paints on paper and canvas. Then I got bored of it and found it uncreative. I decided to paint it directly onto the subjects with glances and words and
gestures. It costs me because I can’t charge, but I win because of the pleasure
I get from the practice of projecting loveliness and having loveliness
radiating back to me’.

I’m fibbing a little because whatever it was that I wrote a few years ago re the portrait business had the merit of brevity, sacrifice of explication – hey ho, the meaning hasn’t altered. Siegal’s Aesthetic Realism clearly had close connections with my nameless shift of identity as an artist in my own life:

In 1938, Siegel began teaching poetry classes with the view that “what makes a good poem is like what can make a good life.” In 1941, students in these classes asked him to give individual lessons in which they might learn about their own lives. These were the first Aesthetic Realism lessons.[12]

I urge you to read ‘Hot Afternoons Have Been in Montana’ – it’s not ‘Poetry’ in the stifled, cloistered, stuffy air of an overheated library corner, it’s the poetry of life sweeping cobwebs from the mind and opening the windows of the imagination.

A semi random quote from the midst of this long poem to give you a flavour:

“That bird over this green, under that sun, God, how sweet and
it is!
Could we ever do that? Machines that fly are clumsy and ugly;
Birds go into the air so softly, so fairly; see its curves; Earth!
Montana, men eat and have bodies paining them
Because they eat.

Kansas, with Montana, in America, has, too, men pained by
So has England, with Westminster Abbey, where poets lie,

dead now;
O, what their poetry can do; what poetry can do.
There is
the brain of man, a soft, puzzling, weak affair;”

Tumbling together urbanity with the prairies whilst inviting us all to consider applying aesthetics to more aspects of our lives…if not all aspects…

What a difference it will make when we do…

Watch this space because – no, don’t watch it, please, keep me to my promises, I’m clearing a space for a project, it’s a book length piece of writing project; it’s not the ‘autobiography’ type project I have wacked on about in the past. It’s got an ‘academic’ kind of subject matter from the outset but by the time I’ve worked it, trust me the academy will be weaved in so well it will be indiscernible (unless you think that more than two syllables is academic). No title yet, weaving first.

So if I don’t ‘follow through’ – prod me would  you – I have the concentration of an ant some of the time – adhd perhaps (additional heady distractions)

Over and Out Dear Friends, ’til the ‘morrow,

(or as PGW would say – ‘toodlepip’),

Janie x


  1. 1
    Hal Lanse Says:

    Eli Siegel, who wrote this poem was actually an anti-gay bigot who made false claims about being able to turn gay people straight. See the book ERASING REASON by Hal Lanse (me) which will be published tomorrow on Amazon.

  2. 2
    Karen Van Outryve Says:

    I also love this poem and love what Mr. Siegel said and taught: how we can have the art purpose in life. Thought you would like to know that there is a beautiful film made of this poem by Ken Kimmelman, with a recording of the poem read by Eli Siegel himself.

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