In April 1989, my English teacher at Plano East Senior High read a poem to the class. I must confess I was a horrible student. I don’t mean I lacked the capacity to learn and make good grades. I mean I was HORRIBLE, a bad student, a total shit, the kind of student teachers (especially substitute teachers) have nightmares about. If I had a time machine, I would go back to the late 80’s and kick my own ass. So, the fact that I still remember having this poem read to me 24 years later says something about it.
The poem is “since feeling is first” by e.e. cummings. If you haven’t read it, please do, especially now.
Here are the first four lines:
“since feeling is first
who pays any attention
to the syntax of things
will never wholly kiss you”
To me, these lines say, don’t worry about the being so orderly; don’t obsess over appearances; don’t worry about the syntax. Why? Feeling is first. Emotions are what matter, and people who focus too much on the syntax of things will never be truly passionate.
I find that so many improv artists (both students and performers) get hung up on the rules, the structure, the format that they lose sight of what matter most… their emotions, their feelings, their passion. I know it happens to me from time to time, so I reread this poem. It helps me not think. Reminds me what really matters… feeling.