Commentary:

An Artistic Appeal…in Poetry

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I remember the moment I wanted to become a writer. I was fifteen years old, and I
had just been blown away by “The Ballad of Dorothy Parker”, by Prince. Although I
had been a connoisseur of music at an early age (thanks primarily to my father), I had
never been so drawn to a song! I was blown away by…and that’s when things got
“complicated”. For the first time in my life, my vision of the song extended beyond
the mere melody. More than just the words…more than just the music…more than
the two working together so perfectly as to paint the picture in your mind with every

measure…more than a melody that plays in your mind long after it’s finished, but be-
gins as if there is no end. More than all of this, I began to create an entirely new

story!
In the past, I began life ‘in song’ as an “extra”. As the song played, I could see the

image, but I was never a part of the story. “Crazy Train” by Ozzie Ozbourne, is a per-
fect example of my simply standing in the scene. The train was moving, yes, but I

wasn’t on the train nor was I ‘in control’ of it. I was an observer of the “main charac-
ters”, but I was not the star. However, as I began to grown in music, I graduated to a

“stand-in” role. I studied the script and I was “invited” to the story, thus becoming a
part of it. As I began to study the purpose of melody to sound equations, pitch to
tone theories, and a host of other elements that defines “aesthetically pleasing” in
music, I began to elevate my “expectation” of the art. Soon, I accepted the leading
role and the main character was me! I became the lonely “Man on the Corner” by
Genesis…I was the frustrated guy bangin’ on the drums (although I couldn’t play, nor
had a clue Phil Collins was singing a song about divorce) “In the Air” tonight…I was
the guy with Lucy & Cynthia Rose having “Starfish & Coffee”. As much as I was the
lead character, I was still nothing more than an actor in a script written by someone
else.
When the last note to the ballad had been played, seemingly the song didn’t stop. It
continued on somewhere in my mind that not only had its own set design, but the
characters were already in place! The song extended onward so, that not only was I
offered the opportunity to pen the rest of this beautifully un-ending silent film that
has a supplied soundtrack, but I was up all flippin’ night from the excitement. A rush

had come over me so severe, I literally woke up the next morning like a kid on Christ-
mas morning. A writer was born that night, but it has taken several years for me to

even feel comfortable telling people I’m a “writer”. My skills were refined from criti

cism both in and out of art. My television viewing changed. What used to be greeted
with utter disdain suddenly became a welcomed subject (for whatever reason). I took
notice to what “appealed” to the senses. I noticed that my objections to previously
presented sounds, were then investigated & re-catalogued. What could have been
‘offensive’ to the pallets, were tasted again to ensure “quality assurance”. I examined
everything I ingested and graded all that crossed my path. Being the agent of chaos
that I am, I questioned others as to why they “accepted” what was being fed to them,
regardless the source.
Seemingly, my generation has ushered in an age of media dependency, and the public
appeared to me as “zombies” dancing to whatever tune the piper’s were playing. The
more I examined the content of the messages being sent through main stream media,
my depression grew greater from the impending doom that was soon to appear.
When “quality entertainment” is defined by planted ex-convicts who portray role
models for separation purposes, drug abusive under-acting individuals who’s lives

will never be perfect, and power hungry horemongers who inaccurately define suc-
cess, it’s a wonder why society has issues defining beauty…it’s a wonder as to why

it’s complicated to define beauty in one’s message (art). Art, like life, is not complicated…it is the combination of simplicities working in concert to produce a compelling appeal to the witness of said work. Even the most putrid of products can contain

an appealing element that both attracts & entraps a witness. The question that must
be answered by onlookers is what is the “separator”? Where is the line drawn, when it
comes to whether a work “works” or not?

Plato emphasized proportion, harmony and unity when examining aesthetics. Aris-
totle exhumed the notions of order, symmetry and definiteness. By definition, aes-
thetics is pertaining to, involving, or concerned with pure emotion and sensation as

opposed to pure intellectuality. So then, art is nothing more than a message from

one sender to a receiver that “should” appeal to the senses. Is anyone paying atten-
tion to the plural tense in ‘senses’? If there are five (5) senses…if we perceive by way

of our senses…our perceptions mold & churn our beliefs…then, would it not make
sense to be attentive to ALL the “senses” are processing with any communication, be
it art or otherwise? The purpose of any work of art, is to transmit a message. The
appeal of that message is largely induced by the level of the witness. What is the
message’s meaning? Is the meaning congruent with what the senses perceive? Is that
message being conveyed correctly?

There are a number of ‘needs’ that require attention in terms of the message, but the
sole heir of the “is the message being properly presented”, rests on the presenter…
the artist. What motivates the artist, and is that motivation visibly apparent in the

work…or does it linger in the shadows? Is the message’s intent clear? The more ele-
ments added to the piece, the more “dimensionality” is added. As in other aspects of

life, art is not exempt from the asinine ideology that more is better. Too often, artist

(including myself) are guilty of over-indulging in the gluttony of an audience’s acco-
lades, we completely disrespect the craft (whatever craft we partake in). We drag

story lines out that should have been cut…we sing too many runs in a too long
song…we add too much color to a perfect picture. By adding more than should exist,
we destroy the beauty of perfection and reduce & demean the work to a ‘novelty’ item
as opposed to a collectible.
If we are to produce a better society, then we should be creating better artist. Along
with creating better artist, we should also be demanding of the art we DO ingest! If
poetry is an ‘elevated’ form of artistic expression, then there is a charge…a call…a
responsibility…to produce work that either questions, answers or possess a quality
that contains elements of both as well as entertain. We who would call ourselves

“poets” or those who seek to join the ranks of those regarded as poets, are educa-
tional entertainers who appeal to those who would hear. We are creative expression-
ist who paint pictures with our pens and make magic with our words. We are more

than mere puppets for claps & finger snaps…we are not rappers. We are defenders of
the truth. So, why are SO many of us feeding the foolishness?

S.A. Thomas

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