The Three Lives of an Artist
Poets and artists
of all kinds have three intersecting archetypes within us that guide our creative process and the way we navigate the world.
Meet the Gatherer,
Maker, and Giver.
The invitation of the Gatherer is to behold.
The symbol of The Gatherer is a bowl or basket. My home is filled with vessels. They remind me that my first task as a poet is to observe. The work of writing begins with listening and gathering the raw material out of which I write. When I carry my bowl (my notebook) with me, my primary posture toward the world is that of awe, attention, and anticipation. The Gatherer doesn't have to know "what it is for." She need only fill notebooks full of flint and spark for the imagination.
"Poetry isn't a profession, it's a way of life. It's an empty basket; you put your life into it and make something out of that."
Georgia Review, p. 733 (Winter 1981)
The invitation of the Maker is to become.
The symbol of The Maker is a book. If you prefer, imagine the form of your craft. The Maker's task is the alchemy that weaves raw material into something more. Working from kept observations, The Maker engages in combinatory play to gesture toward ideas, find forms, and create coherence. This making is not just about artifacts and words. It is making as a way of knowing. The Maker participates in their own becoming through their labor. This figure makes and is made in the process.
“The body, through physical labor, leaves a transparent presence in material. And labor is a way of knowing.”
The invitation of the Giver is to be heard.
The symbol of The Giver is the bird which represents the voice. As writers and artists, we can get caught up in our identities as Makers. We may perpetually shape our work at the expense of sharing our work. Being heard is not a selfish task, but rather an act of gift-giving. The Giver understands that while our creative work is intimately our own, it is not exclusively our own. It is for us, and for others. We are those bird-like creatures who are made not just to build, but to sing into the world.
Free Reflection Guide
Whether through words or images, art is a kind of communication and communication takes presence. This free printable reflection guide is an invitation to make space through contemplative questions to think about the unique expressions and needs of your inner archetypes: the Gatherer, Maker, and Giver.
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