I recently saw the movie, The Lady in the Van, starring the much acclaimed and beloved, Maggie Smith. While Ms. Smith was brilliant as the transient Ms. Mary/Margaret Shepherd, it was the mostly true story of writer/author Alan Bennett—his biography, his imagination, his writing process and problems—that intrigued and delighted me. The movie portrayal of Bennett as two men, household Alan and writer Alan, was executed masterfully and oh, so relatable, with lines of dialogue, civil and some not-so-civil, between the two that I wish I could remember—I have never been any good at remembering movie lines, but then, I could always read the book. Without giving anything away, a line of Bennett’s near the end of the film speaks about writing as a journey into self—a belief held by many great writers, expressed in a variety of ways. And I have often been told and read that the more personal your journey, the more universal it is. Our tragedies and triumphs are hardly exclusive to us, getting down to the heart of it all is what many struggle with. Thank you to those who can put the struggle, the answering of questions to paper, who lead us to understanding while charming us with words.
Bennett’s dialogue made me think of a poem I wrote 7 or 8 years ago, not a great poem nor one that my poet friends raved about, but one that became ridiculously meaningful to me, a line from which became the title of this blog. Meaningful because it became self-fulfilling—I was startled, and I continue to crave and seek the startling—but also meaningful because I can pinpoint the beginning of my journey into self with this poem. After this piece, my life began to spill before me and onto the page. Don’t discredit poetry as an avenue for your words. It is as powerful as prose.
My poem again, just in case you missed it.
Whats Love Got to Do With It?
She had an affair not for love nor lust
Nor obsession with her fading self.
Standing on the edge of old
She wanted to be startled at every turn. – pn
photo credit: Ain Lim