Writing Poetry

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Ron Price Ron Price Male, 71, Australia (7/23/2005 11:15:00 AM)


Most writers, according to Doris Lessing, are mildly depressed. When asked what her most joyous moments were she said “at the beginning of each book.”1 I agree that a certain melancholia, a certain pensiveness, a certain level of emotion recollected in tranquillity, are present during the writing process. But there is also: intensity, pleasure, a celebratory joy, on rare occasions tears born in a commingling of sadness and joy, a solemn consciousness, a thankful gladness. I know what depression is like from years of suffering from a bi-polar disorder. I know all the gradations of depression from the death wish with blackness to the death wish in a quiet grey, to the mild depression that Lessing tells of. I know despair, a frenetic hypomania, immobilizing fear, mental chaos and, when I write, none of this is present. There is a culture of feeling which I am in quest of and which I find before I write or during the writing process. There is a freshness of the emotions, a connecting of this freshness with life, with my own heart and with the world around me. It does not always occur with the same degree of intensity, but it must occur to some extent, or writing for me is impossible. When I try, without these oils present, it is like dry, thin, black, soil out in the hot sun: no life, no vitality, no freshness, no heart, a meagre mind.
-Ron Price with thanks to Doris Lessing, “Books and Writing”, ABC Radio National,16 January 2000; for his Pioneering Over Three Epochs, Unpublished Manuscript,2000.

No, Doris, ‘mildly depressed’
does not really describe it for me.
There’s a fusion of life and death
instincts, now, after dieing so many
times in this life and praying for
friends and loved ones in the
kingdom of immortality over so
many years. This is at the heart
of my creativity and Eros, too,
with its culture-building capacities,
its attraction passionee,1 its flowing
in love, friendship and sociability,
making reason more sensuous and
happiness a bi-product of a fresh
grace infusing the power of thought.

This, Doris, comes a little closer
to telling how I tell it, what goes
on in my inner life where these
new and wonderful configurations
seem cast upon the mirror of creation.2

Ron Price
17 January 2000

1 For a discussion of the interrelationship between the life and death wish, instinct, I draw on Anthony Giddens, The Transformation of Intimacy: Sexuality, Love and Eroticism in Modern Societies, Polity Press, Cambridge,1993, Chapter 9.
2 ‘Abdu’l-Baha, Secret of Divine Civilization, Wilmette,1971, p.1.


Henry Miller said that in his old age the telephone and the doorbell were his phobias. D.H. Lawrence used to hide in the kitchen when the doorbell rang. Miller used to say “Tell them I’m not home.” I don’t feel quite as strongly as that all the time; phobia is a bit strong, but certainly the tendency is there to avoid social contact through these means. The need for strong friendships which I once had, even into my forties, has gone. I need some social contact, but not much. My big desire is to be at it constantly, at writing that is, every day. The thinking process is a drawing together, a drawing out. It’s right there at my finger tips, meshed in the print I am reading, the experiences I am having and the imagination that comes my way. It comes tingling off my fingers onto the page. When I get too tired I stop. Overall, the process seems continually going on day after day in the context of my roles, my needs, my desires and what I am. I don’t seem to be very good at doing things other than writing. And my story is, like all stories, unique, a form of genuine activity not just busybody work. What I write is an account of my acceptance, my acquiescence, my own self and my many obsessive themes. The joy, or what approaches joy, is in the act of writing, the accomplishment, not the product which often never gets read again.
-Ron Price with thanks to Henry Miller, My Life and Times, Playboy Press, pp.1-39.

The stream stays alive and flowing,
enjoyed, self-revealing,
sometimes useless and contradictory,
but its the water in the river1
going to the sea, up into the bays,
the coves and inlets; it fills the great
estuary of my life, rising and falling
with the tides, between the green
tree-laden shores where the mountains
fill the eye in the distance,
again and again, day after day.
It comes back to be rediscovered,
relived again with the magic of words,
coming out of me right up from the sea.

1 The Tamar River here is also called an estuary.

Ron Price
11 August 2000

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