Guest Blogger: Valerie Keane says 50% of Becoming a Better Artist Has Nothing To Do With Your Work

Valerie & I visit the Tenement Museum and eat meatballs
Valerie & I visit the Tenement Museum and eat meatballs

Valerie and I spend lots of time, creating art, supporting art, talking about art. We are both in agreement that the best part of being in this community is just being present. I tweet/update statuses about going to an event and feeling inspired and moved. It feels like fireworks.  About a month ago, Valerie and I attended an event. We were invited by our friend, Audrey Dimola. Truth be told, we actually had no idea what the event was about and what it was for – we just knew Audrey’s in it and we never been to the Latimer House in Flushing.  We got there and experienced the spoken word, poetry, food, company in awe and appreciation. Then I wrote a poem about it the next day. So when Valerie posted a status update about showing up, I told her to elaborate:

I’m being reminded a lot lately of the importance of showing up and listening to and/or seeing others’ art. And not the “showing up as an obligation to a friend” kind of showing up. But showing up and being fully present and grateful to be part of the community. When you show up like that, you ARE a part of the art community. Instantly. You don’t need to be the one up there reading or performing your work or the one whose painting is on the wall in order to be *part of it all*. As a matter of fact, if your prime objective is to put yourself on display, you’re really missing out on the juicy stuff that will make you a better artist. It will be evident in your work that you have not, from time to time, just gone to an event to LISTEN and to SEE and to EXPERIENCE. Not to mention, the subtle and insidious isolation that ensues when you only chose to show up when it can be about *you*. Take that suggestion from one who knows that all too well. If your work is meant to be out there, believe me, people will ask you to put it out there if you show up without expectation, without attachment, and without a furious insistence to be heard in an effort to validate yourself. The Universe has already validated your parking voucher, kids. If you have something to say, by all means say it. But remember that that is only HALF of your art. Don’t miss out on the other absolutely glorious 50%. Don’t half-ass your gift by letting your life choices be led by the siren’s call of the spotlight. Yin/Yang, yes? Action/Receptivity, yes? Show up just to listen sometimes. Have the courage to be an absolute nobody. You are already SOMEbody. And so, my dear, is everyone else. Go. Listen to them. They want to love you for just being you. Imagine that.


Valerie G. Keane is very honored to be part of the current Queens literary scene, regardless of how late to the party she actually was.  She owes her love and understanding of poetry completely to Dick Allen, Connecticut Poet Laureate.  Two of her poems will appear in the Spring/Summer 2014 issue of the Newtown Literary Journal.  She curates a Poetry & Coffee discussion group for writers and readers that meets in Queens to read great poems and speak wildly and passionately about why they contain all the secrets to life.  Valerie is very excited that it is the only literary group in Queens where you cannot read your own work.  When asked if she is a poet, Valerie says, “I still don’t know how you qualify as one.”  She is, however, currently unemployed – which probably means she is on her way to legitimacy.  You may reach her at valeriegkeane at gmail dot com.  Twitter: @valeriegkeane 

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