I am not in a holiday mood. I’m in a John Lennon mood, which is as it should be on the thirtieth anniversary of his death. Here in Minneapolis, there will be the annual tribute to Lennon at First Avenue with Curtiss A and friends. Me? I’m listening to Lennon’s music this afternoon and waiting for friends to arrive to have dinner with my family. (Beef stroganoff, if you are wondering.)
But mostly I’m imagining all the ways that art becomes political. The ways it can be used to promote agendas. The ways art can open up a dialogue or slam into someone’s head, knock them out. And I’m thinking about the ways the best artists strip themselves naked for the world, showing both vulnerability and strength. The image of a nude John Lennon with a fully-clothed Yoko Ono on the cover of the Rolling Stone has long illustrated my own ideas about vulnerability and commitment and love and fear and making a leap. All of it. Lennon took risks, made his statements, endeared himself to as many people as he angered. I loved Lennon, my father hated him….sometimes for the same reasons.
And it’s on days like this that I feel like there’s very little I’ve done to measure up. Thinking about John Lennon and what he stood for makes me want to do more. Stand up more. Say something when people resort to violence as a solution, whether it’s hitting a kid or aiming a gun or dropping a bomb. Be brave enough to risk being tactless if that’s what makes people listen.
So, along with my 100 poems in 100 days effort (number 73 went in the file today), I’m considering what I will do with my art in the new year that will make a difference. It may be through volunteering, teaching kids about creative writing and what it can do to help them sort out their lives. It may be through sending out some of my own work that rants a little more. It may be through supporting artists who are brave in their statements, who push the boundaries. But whatever I come up with, being quiet is not an option.
DO A KIND THING
I like to think John Lennon, activist that he was, would have approved of the peace work being done by organizations such as the William J. Clinton Foundation (check it out here) or the International Peace Institute (check it out here) And, it is the season for promoting peace on earth, so what are you waiting for? Honor the season and honor those who work for peace.