Inspiration and Creation

One thing that fascinates me is how creativity inspires and encourages further creative expression. How a poem I read may prime the pump for the emergence from me of another poem — or some other form. It is magical, somehow. I’m aware of being careful what I read, what fuel I put into the hopper…

A week or so ago, while battling yet another cold, I happened on the Facebook announcement of Virtual Choir 3.0, Water Night. This is an extraordinary choral piece by Eric Whitacre, adapting a poem by Octavio Paz, (translated from Spanish by Muriel Rukeyser). Very cool story about the music came to be composed. I had heard about Virtual Choir 1.0 and 2.0 from a TED talk by Eric.

The way Virtual Choir works is that Eric posts video of himself conducting the chosen piece which he posts online.  Virtual choir members then practice and submit individual recordings of their parts: soprano, alto, tenor, or base. These videos are then assembled by a super tech guy into a coherent whole. The results are stunning. VC 1.0 was Lux Aurumque (scroll down), with about 180 singers from 12 countries and VC 2.0 was Sleep with 2052 singers from 58 countries.

The deadline for submissions for VC 3.0 is Jan 31. Even with no voice (from laryngitis) I was drawn to do this. Although I’d sung in choirs most of my life, the last time was 15 years ago. (Since then I’ve been taking voice lessons which has increased my confidence, etc.) So  last week I began with learning the words to the song, listening to my part (alto 4) and listening to the whole and getting acquainted with the technology. All with the hope that I would recover in time.

Every night I “practice.” One night I actually sang. This is a gorgeous piece, a spiritual experience to sing. The more I work with it the more compelling it is. And through the Facebook page, I feel a connection to other singers, struggling with the same difficulties in notes and breathing and tech problems.

I am inspired and encouraged by this experience, however it ends up. And, as it turns out, I’ve written my own poem about the process of creation of this wondrous work that is uniting people all over the world through music, through hopeful vibration…dare I say, healing?  Who has inspired you? Come sing!


Creation of Water Night

by Eric Whitacre and Octavio Paz

First was the word
and that vibration in translation
set the possibility in motion
that someone, sometime
would come who heard the music
and could set it down.

And in that decision
was the inherent gift,
the Universe saying Yes,
leading to the poem, then
words lassoing the music.
The lotus bud tightly closed
opened its lush velvet petals
revealing the inner gold.

For what was desire
was only a direction to head,
not the ultimate goal.
And direction led to here…
and now…and astonishment…
and beauty everlasting.
Small splash, then larger
as patient tendrils effortlessly
envelope and transform
the ever-expanding whole.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2012

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5 thoughts on “Inspiration and Creation

  1. MaryAnn Myers

    I love the poem…you always amaze me with the way you capture a moment, a time. Love “The Lotus bud tighly closed opened its lush velvet petals revealing the inner gold” Wow! And “the patient tendrils effortlessly envelope and transform the ever-expanding whole”

    Wow! Wow! Wow!

  2. Margaret

    Thanks for your generous comments, MaryAnn. You are always so encouraging and you “get it.” I wanted the language to reflect the original poem by Paz, which is different from my usual writing (if there is such a thing!). I feel so joyful working on this music! Still not able to sing it yet.

  3. Margaret

    In thinking about it, what I wrote in my comment was not really accurate. I did not consciously attempt to include any particular kind of language in writing this poem, I just wanted to be present and let the poem come, be true to itself. The lines began and I followed. Afterwards, I was happy with those two phrases. But they choses themselves, if you know what I mean. This was a poem I wanted to be liked so I overwrote it a bit, then stepped back, realized, and cut some of it to get to the core. Thanks again for reading and for your comment!


    Dear Margaret,

    Interesting is right! That our recent blog posts have similar themes: How music comes into being. You poem has good images. I particularly like the last four lines, which could be a four line Haiku-type sutra. Your comment about catching yourself “over writing” is a good reminder. My tendency, too, is to “over-write,” – The word of the week, for me, is, “authenticity” – My music is always authentic. Many times my writing is not.

  5. Margaret

    Thanks for the comment, Charlotte. I think once we are aware, then we can let go of expectation and just let “it” be whatever it is. Whether music or poem or memoir or painting or video… That is authenticity. And taking care of ourselves is part of that too. So we can be the channel for the truth to come through. Each of us has things that come easy and things that have more challenge. Thanks for reading!

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