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Who am I?

poetry poetry Let me begin by saying that I resist defining myself, for any definition is immediately artifical and confining. When I watch moments in the documentary, "Don't Look Back," when Bob Dylan responds with evasion and obfuscation to questions hammered by the press, I can empathize. To be categorized and defined is as good as being frozen in a block of ice.

I was born in a small town in Germany post WWII. When I was still quite young, my parents decided to move to Canada. This displacement from the land of my birth may have contributed to my unsettled, inward turning temperament. My interest in human nature grew out of a childhood of feeling out of place. I have always had a great curiosity about the world in which we have been thrown, with my one foot in the sciences and the other in the arts. I am equally drawn to arcane physical theories of the birth of the universe in the latest edition of Scientific American, and the quiet beauty of a Rembrandt. I have dabbled in painting and photography. I have killed more than one slug in my garden, though I am not particularly proud of this. I have few affectations. Gorging on a pizza or watching a great movie, or better yet, engaging in both at the same time, can do me nicely.

As you may have guessed, I like the colors blue and green and purple. I am intellectually restless and never wholly satisfied with myself, nor would I want to be, for too much satisfaction signifies a kind of death. I can be insufferably patient, but can also growl like a dog. I can be consumed with guilt about nothing at all. Sometimes I have felt Kafka's shadow hanging over me.

I write because I feel compelled to write. My compulsion to put things into words is sometimes at the expense of living. I experience life as absurd and bittersweet. By absurd, I mean in the existential sense of Camus; that is, I see our existence as strange, contradictory, and ultimately incomprehensible. In the face of this absurdity, as we contend with our mortality, the only meaning we can really give to our lives is a personal one.

Human beings are a bundle of contradictions, and I am certainly no exception. Contradiction is the fuel of my creative thinking. My poems are an expression of my need to understand and overcome. Poetry should twist and tear at the heart, squeeze and rattle the brain, but ultimately, exalt what is the ineffable core of ourselves: our innermost breath, our soul.

Who am I? If I knew, I would be little more than a doorstop or a paperclip. I certainly would have stopped writing a long time ago.

Some of you who have been swept to the shores of Xenowave may also struggle with the push and pull of inner emotional forces, the urge for self-discovery, the need to free your spirit from old wounds and paralyzing fears. Perhaps in resonant moments we will join in our quest.

Let my splintered thoughts not frighten you. I delight in the exchange of ideas, and most of the time I have no claws. On sunny days, I can purr like a cat. And if for a moment my words find an important place inside you, I am boundlessly rewarded.

-- hans beihl
xenomaster and poet

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