The Artist: Poet vs Craftsman
Written by
Nissi Mutale
May 2012
Written by
Nissi Mutale
May 2012

Originally posted on on March 20, 2012 

"There are two men inside the artist, the poet and the craftsman. One is born a poet. One becomes a craftsman." – Emile Zola.

I am often asked how I started writing, why I write poetry and if I think that somebody can be taught how to write. Emile Zola’s quote above calls for an interesting discussion. What is the difference between the poet and the craftsman? Is there a difference?

The way I understand Zola’s words is that the poet has a natural affinity towards his craft; it is something he was seemingly born knowing how to do. Now that is not to say that I do not believe that people can be taught how to write, because they can. However I think that some people are born with a natural ability to be able to play with, craft and use words to create a whole other world. It is like people who can naturally sing versus the person who can only sing because they have been trained to do so. The trained singer just does not sound the same. The notes may be perfect, they understand rhythm and look great on stage but they just do not have it.

However the craftsman has to be taught. It is not a skill that he or she naturally knows how to do. The great thing is the poet also needs training and nurturing of their talents. Hence both the poet and the craftsman exist within the artist. Separating the two leads to shortcomings and I believe less chances of reaching the full potential. As artists we can often go wrong when we believe so much in our natural abilities that we are unwilling to learn from people and be taught how to take our crafts to the next level.

What are your opinions of the artist (writer, blogger, painter, dancer)?

Nissi x

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