Shelton College Quarterly’s interview of the school’s poet in residence, David Smith, continues below. When transcription is completed, the entirety of the interview will be published – in order – in the Quarterly. Ed.)
SCQ: Do you want to leave it there? That writing poetry is fun? Nothing more to it?
David Smith: Well, yes, in a way, anyhow. I don’t mean that there is nothing more to it than skipping rocks across the river. You know, whistling a happy tune.
SCQ: Let’s ask it this way: is writing poetry a spiritual experience? For you, at least?
David Smith: That makes it easy. Of course it’s a spiritual experience. Anything creative is. Look at the first movement of the Spirit in the Bible. What was the first thing the Spirit did?
SCQ: Hovered over the waters?
David Smith: Yes, yes, but the point is that the first act of the Spirit of God is creation. Creation is the first act of the Spirit. Creation – the act of creating something – is spiritual. This world is God’s poem. The whole universe is God’s poem.
SCQ: Do you see any distinction between the acts of creation – God’s action – and human attempts at creation – creativity? Writing, for example?
David Smith: Of course. God is the creator. He makes something out of nothing. All our creativity is derivative. It’s all from Him. But God distinguished humanity from everything else in creation by making humanity in His image. We are most what we ought to be when we are bearing His image. And we bear His image most directly when we are involved in creativity.
SCQ: I was not prepared for this. I was not expecting to get so theological.
David Smith: Well. You asked. You really kind of teed that one up.
SCQ: I don’t know that most poets would see it that way.
David Smith: Maybe not. Maybe not in those terms. But anyone who has been involved in creative endeavors has probably felt it. Not everyday. Maybe not even most of the time. But musicians, writers, artists all know that there is something more to it than themselves. You won’t have any trouble finding anyone involved in the arts to tell you that creation – creativity – is a spiritual experience. When we are creating we are doing what we were made to do. It’s the height of human experience. That’s why it’s so gratifying. If we are kept away from it, we’ll be frustrated and bored.