Monday, December 05, 2005

As Beautiful As Me

I have a pretty good singing voice. I hold tune well, I have good bass range, my voice blends. I'm not a soloist by any means, and have never thought myself one.

Nevertheless, my daughter is fond of hearing me sing Gaston's entry solo from Beauty and the Beast ("Right from the moment when I met her, saw her/I said 'She's gorgeous' and I fell/For in town there's only she/Who is beautiful as me/So I'm making plans to woo and marry Belle"). I love to sing it. Gaston is a great part - one any performer, particularly former Glee Club basses like me, should drool over. I can't do it justice, but when the lead-in vamp starts on the recording, my daughter invariably starts cajoling me: "Sing it, Daddy! Sing it!"

Why do I bring this up? A reminder to myself, I suppose. I've not been writing much lately; note here, not in my notebook, not in the empty effort I call a journal - not even in the car with my recorder, which is usually my most productive time. I don't know if this is a contributing reason for the drought, but I've also been wondering lately what my place in the "poetry canon" might be, if that makes sense - wondering what I have to contribute. Frankly, this feeling has been lately emphasized by a realization that a non-trivial fraction of what I write is "cute". It's nice, it reaches people, it's even fair poetry. But it's really not great poetry. I've always known this, and haven't had any pretense about it: some of what I write is good. A lot isn't, and it doesn't try to be.

But, like when my daughter wants me to be Gaston, that doesn't mean it doesn't have its audience, and it doesn't mean that practicing it doesn't have value; singing the Gaston solo keeps my voice in shape, after all. As does singing in church. And singing in the shower. I've lost sight of the value of writing just to write, just to stay in shape. Shame on me.

My daughter doesn't worry about how good other people are or what other people know or how accomplished other people are. She just knows what's fun to do, and what's fun to hear, and she wants those things around her. May it always be so, and may my princess continue to remind her overthinking old man from time to time.

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