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KPBS Midday Edition

San Diego poet Gill Sotu on creativity and finding your voice

San Diego poet Gill Sotu in an undated photo.
Courtesy of EyeRise Photography
San Diego poet Gill Sotu in an undated photo.

San Diego poet Gill Sotu is a teaching artist and commissioned playwright with the Old Globe and the La Jolla Playhouse. In other words, he knows a little bit about unlocking creativity and the barriers that can block it.

"It's your own self judgment. It's the comparison to other people. I mean, that's kind of our plight with a lot of things in our life," Sotu said. "My philosophy is that creativity is a combination of your inspirations and your experiences. And then it's filtered through your skill sets. So no one can teach you your inspiration. That's an individual thing. And your inspirations can't be wrong. No one can teach you your experiences because those are just your unique experiences, and your experiences can't be wrong."

On Saturday Sotu, who is also the poet-in-residence for the Writer's Festival, will lead a workshop on creativity, finding your voice and effective poetic communication as part of the fourth annual San Diego Writers Festival. The festival is happening this Saturday, Oct. 8 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Coronado public library.


Sotu said traveling around the world and having experiences with people from different cultures helped him to find his creative voice.

"You have to really input different influences all the time. So you can't continue to listen to the same type of thought, the same type of speakers, the same type of humans. You have to really get out into the world and experience it and open yourself up to creativity," Sotu said.

Sotu, who has a forthcoming book of poetry titled, "Equally Strange, Beautifully Different," shared a poem with KPBS from the book called, "The Race." It is printed below with permission.

The Race

When you set out to make a difference

You are bound by red tape

And asked to awkwardly run a race

where it feels like the only cheering happens

when you appear to be failing

When you set out to make a difference

The announcer mispronounces your name

He speaks as if you have already lost

But each lap you complete,

Someone smiles in recognition

Another begins running clumsily behind you

Even more are being infused with inspiration without them even realizing it

You are making a difference

Even if each step you attempt does not feel different

Even if they inspect and respect your degrees

before they do your heart,

what you are trying to do for them,

Or the path you are trying to clear

Do not mistake a hard road for one void of value

You are making a difference

You are becoming, the difference

How wonderful is it to know,

That at the end of this race

The trail of light you leave behind

Will illuminate a path for those coming after you

That is how decency works

That is how the sun works

That is how love works