“To Be or Not To Be” — June 8, 2019

“To be or not to be” Hamlet, by Wm. Shakespeare — Blog by Gary Williams

I was having a conversation with myself a little more than a month ago…you know, a conversation like those guys in the Bard’s plays who have dagger fixations or contemplate all kinds of ‘-cides’. We all have these conversations, probably not as severe as the Bard’s characters, but I happen to put mine down on paper from time to time.

These conversations are most often initiated by a current event, or listening to a long-forgotten song. Visiting my home town and seeing an old landmark and remembering a personal experience. And, of course, my fascination with our history.

Thanks to my Irish grandmother, I often place a twinkle and a wink into some of my poetry, and thanks to my English/Welsh side of the family, a degree of dry or subtle understatement. I also approach my writing from an abstract point of view, i.e., what would the other guy do? What if? Is there a parallel out there?

One example of what I’ve been rambling on about is the conversation I had with myself more than a month ago that eventually became my poem “Moving Day”. A poem regarding the 183rd anniversary of the Battle of the Alamo. My conversation started with the 200-plus Texicans who died there during the 13-day battle, however, I soon started thinking in the abstract. What about the poor bastard who didn’t fight at the Alamo, but was caught in the path of the oncoming Mexican Army.

Eliza, that damn Santa Anna
Is com’n and he’s bring’n
Hundreds with him.
Infantry, cavalry, cannon.

Here is a man with a family. He’s frustrated and angry. His peaceful life is about to be thrown into chaos. He knows what he is leaving behind. He curses those leaders who can help him, but won’t. He curses those leaders whose folly has created his chaos. And finally, as he and his family start their move out of harm’s way, his parting thought is about the building of a wall (twinkle, wink).

Taking the above into account, I’ve always relied on history, humor, music, the abstract, etc. to influence my writing…and always will.


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