Posts Tagged ‘storytelling’

Sage advice from William Shakespeare in the film “All Is True” on how to become a truthful writer

August 18, 2019

I’ve never let the truth get in the way of a good story. — William Shakespeare*

I love this quote, and the one below, on becoming a writer, both spoken in All Is True, an intriguing film about the final years of William Shakespeare’s life (April 23, 1564 – April 23, 1616). Brilliantly written by Ben Elton, it was produced and directed by the lead actor—an unrecognizable Kenneth Branagh as William Shakespeare. Other notables are master Shakespearean actors Judi Dench, and Ian McKellen.

Earlier on, a stranger approaches Shakespeare, who had returned home to Stratford after his London Globe Theater had burned down, and attempts to ask him a question. Shakespeare starts giving him the usual advice and tries to dismiss him. The stranger finally asks him how he was able to know everything: “There is no corner of this world you have not explored, no geography of the soul, which you cannot navigate.” After some humble bumbling, he clearly gives him this powerful advice: 

If you want to be a writer,
and speak to others and for others,
speak first for yourself. Search within.
Consider the contents of your own soul… your humanity.
And if you’re honest with yourself, then whatever you write, all is true.

This contrasts dramatically with what his unmarried, bitter daughter Judith keeps saying, that nothing is true. The reason for this clash between daughter and father slowly reveals itself bit by bit as unresolved family issues are finally addressed. I highly recommend seeing this brilliant film. I watched it twice. Also see the DVD Bonus Features.

After the renowned Globe Theatre burns to the ground, William Shakespeare returns to Stratford, where he must face a neglected family and a painful past.

*Reminds me of this quote by Pablo Ruiz Picasso: Art is the lie that enables us to realize the truth.

Related posts on writing: Writers on Writing–What Writing Means To Writers | Elizabeth Gilbert—Some Thoughts On Writing | Words of Wisdom on Writing from Literary Lights | Burghild Nina Holzer inspires us to write and discover who we are and what we have to say | Timeless advice on writing from famous authors | Writing—my early poem on the writing process | INSPIRATION, a poem by my son as a young student | The perils of praise or blame for young writers. New ways to help students find their own voice, with links to more content.

Hafiz said to leave something in the marketplace, and Jesse Winchester sure did before he left us.

April 23, 2014

Hafiz’s poem, translated by Daniel Ladinsky, of leaving something behind in the world to inspire others, is exemplified in the singer/songwriting musical skills of the late Jesse Winchester. Read Hafiz’s poem, Leave something in the marketplace, then listen and be moved when Jesse sings this love song, Sham-A-Ling-Dong-Ding.

Leave something in the marketplace

Sometimes it can happen to these cheeks
when a poem visits my mind for the first time
and begins to look around.

They can wonder why rain is falling on them,
and causing my nose to run too.

O boy, what a mess love makes of me. But
there is nothing else right now I would rather

be doing . . . than reaping something from a
field in another dimension

and leaving it in the marketplace for any who
might happen by.

Leave something in the marketplace for us
before you leave this world.

A Year With Hafiz: Daily Contemplations
Daniel Ladinsky, March 20, page 88.
See more profound poems by Hafiz posted on this blog.

Singer/songwriter Jesse Winchester (May 17, 1944 – April 11, 2014) left many beautiful songs for us in the marketplace. Here’s one that will also make your cheeks wet and lift your mouth into a wistful smile as he sings about the sweet shyness of young love on Week 2 of Elvis Costello’s TV show, Spectacle. Listen to the poetic melodic musings of Sham-A-Ling-Dong-Ding.

I met Jesse in Montreal during the summer of 1967, shortly after he left the US to avoid being drafted for the Vietnam War, which he didn’t support. He stayed and made a name for himself as a fine singer/songwriter. Robbie Robertson of The Band produced Jesse’s first album. He couldn’t return to the states to tour until after all draft dodgers were pardoned by President Carter. But many top recording artists would go on to perform Jesse’s songs, and he became known as a first-rate songwriter. Even Bob Dylan was famously quoted as saying of Mr. Winchester: “You can’t talk about the best songwriters and not include him.” In 2007, Mr. Winchester was recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Award from performing rights organization ASCAP for his body of work.

I met Jesse decades later when he was touring through Iowa. It was sweet to see him again, finally being recognized for the talent he was, and for him to freely return home. Here is some news coverage of Jesse’s recent passing, reviewing his life and career, in The Commercial Appeal, USA Today, Rolling Stone, The New York Times, and C-Ville Weekly. From all his fans, and friends who knew him, I’m sure they would agree with Hafiz that Jesse Winchester did leave a lot of good music in the marketplace, and love in their hearts. You did well, Jesse. Thank you!

Jesse Winchester Radio Special: Listen to a special 2007 radio interview and music special with Jesse Winchester recorded by Donna Green-Townsend for WUFT-FM before Jesse’s scheduled performance at the Butterfly Festival in Gainesville, FL. In this program Jesse talked about his early years in Mississippi and Memphis, the inspiration for many of his songs and what he thinks about the music industry today. He also talks about the number of artists who have recorded many of his songs including Wynonna Judd, Emmylou Harris, Reba McEntire, Elvis Costello and many more. RIP Jesse.

Roots Music Canada uploaded a Jesse Winchester interview on April 13, 2010 with RMC’s editor-in-chief David Newland, from Hugh’s Room, Toronto, a venue Jesse launched about a decade ago, and one for which he has the highest regard.

Roots Music Canada produced a show on April 16, 2014: Remembering Jesse Winchester, of him and other artists singing his songs. To see the song list click on Playlist: Folk Roots/Folk Branches – Remembering Jesse Winchester. Jesse Winchester sings a slower version of Sham-A-Ling-Dong-Ding on his album Love Filling Station (Appleseed) with a backup group. I prefer the solo performance.

History Haiku/Tanka by Ken Chawkin

September 2, 2012

History Haiku/Tanka

Past is a Story
Partially made up by you
As is the Future

In between is the Present
How much are you living Now

© Ken Chawkin
September 1, 2012
Fairfield, Iowa, USA


%d bloggers like this: