Just as singing is not necessary
and instrumental music is unnecessary
and color is unnecessary,
dance, most certainly, is not necessary.
Lovely sentences are not necessary.
Words that seize, soak and swim in us-
Images erupting, slithering, suspended
hanging on wall, window, heart
Tales of worlds we know or barely dare to dream
Sonnet, Sound, Sight, Sigh, Strum
Windows made from a lens, a click, a camera
Just as awe is not necessary
or the leap of imagination
or questing curiosity
or the vibrating drumbeat
the spontaneous flower of group chant,
is not necessary.
Arc and architecture-not necessary.
Landscape, fashion, the wooden tool
that loves the hand,
Not necessary, yet
something pushes off the hard cold floor
all on its own accord
with the insistent of soul
to shape, play, and transform
anything it can touch.
This poem arose from reflecting on cuts in government arts programs and in response to a comment made by a church executive in answer to a dancer who asked, “Why does the church have so much trouble incorporating dance. He said, “Because it is not considered necessary.” He did not say this as a judgment. He said it as a sociological observation.
Meanwhile, 600 spiritual directors at a conference last week did hand dances with Jane Vennard and Betsey Beckman opened the event with InterPlayers from three continents dancing on behalf of all the religions that offer up hands in dance.
Art, like worship, prayer, and play are not necessary in the way that a job is necessary or a partner for procreating, or shelter, yet as the dictionary defines the word necessary, art is “unavoidable, indispensable,” originally “no backing away,” from ne- “not” + cedere “to withdraw, go away, yield.” Art will not go away in the way that partners, parents, children, institutions, powers, and I will go away. The world makes art for no reason at all. Simply, because art is what it is. Art arises with any intentional choice.
Frankly, I am relieved not to have to SAVE THE ARTS. One more thing that I can put down so to free up energy needed for art to have more of its way with me. Wheeeee. (By the way, I still stand up for the arts when asked.)
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