20 February 2012

Art in Brokenness

This past Thursday, I participated in an open mic session at the Allentown Public Library. I'm thrilled that the Library is creating great new artistic events; this is promising for the growing artistic life of that beleaguered city. It was well attended for such an event: there were maybe 20 people there? The offerings were from various media: poetry, prose, saxophone solos, a story-telling on the spot, choral and solo numbers from a musical, and one bi-lingual song.

Here is what amazed me about the event. Many of the people who attended were obviously troubled, broken people. They wore their painful pasts on their faces, on their bodies, in their clothes. Some shared about their troubles when they got to the microphone. I was a bit worried, wondering if people with such difficult stories would have had the advantages to learn what it takes to turn their sufferings into art.

That shows what a snob I am.

Because I was totally wrong. As soon as they began singing, reciting their poems, or playing their instruments, these struggling people were transformed into something beautiful. The most hurting person there, to judge from appearances, had the most powerful poetry and the most beautiful voice.

The group of upper-middle-class church-going musical-singers were lousy.

Those who were self-described as ex-cons and ex-druggies were amazing. One talked about how when his life was at its worst, "All I had was a pen and paper." Another time he said, "All I had was God." And the two worked together in his mind, his life, and his art. He was amazing.

Serves my elitism right.



1 comment:

scruffy said...

Seems like there's an anecdote about playing the blues that fits here somewhere ;)

God designs our suffering for our purification and our good. It's not the most welcome news before the suffering but it is pure, sweet joy afterwards. How can it not be, when we meet the Savior in the furnace?