An interview with Don Baird, kung-fu master, teacher, poet, artist, photographer, musician, and philosopher.
By Kathabela Wilson
Shortly after his birth, Don found himself with his family on his grandfather’s ranch in Wyoming in an old converted chicken coop building for some time. During his deep studies and prolific Martial Arts career he fell in love with Asian poetry and Philosophy. You can find him in his Burbank Martial Arts Studio, his photo gallery, in his books, and online journals.
A microscope on the Artist
What makes you a poet, an artist, what propelled you from the beginning and propels, and lights the creative fire in you?
Honestly, I have no idea. I woke up this way! I arrived from creation and brought creation with me!
A telescope on the poet
You have a unique stance in the poetic/artistic world. Your martial arts teaching, performances that combine arts and music are inspiring dynamic and unusual, what is this potent mix?
The greatest of the historic masters of martial arts followed a dynamic principle of “pursuing excellences.” The greatest practitioners are ones who are extremely broad-minded in their pursuits. They are ones who immerse into culture and leave artistic paths for others to follow. This has been the Way of the warriors; this is my Way today. And, it is the Way that I teach and lead my schools, by word as well as example. My pursuits are: kung fu, photography, poetry, chi kung healing arts, and music. I am involved each one of these on a daily basis — my artistic routine, so to speak.
A compass on the poet
How do you see the poet/artist in the world, what can he give and how do you see yourself doing that?
Poets, artists, and musicians are, to me, the core of culture: they are the representation of what culture has been and where it is going. They are the ear to the railroad tracks listening to the thunder of humanity tromping on the earth — they are key to raising general awareness of humanity while connecting individuals to a greater and higher-self expression of life. My music, photography, and poetry comes from my very essence — a place where I believe there is something far beyond the ego-centric aspect(s) of my existence; I surrender to that and allow it to flow through my creative channels into existence, the best that I can.
Pulse of the Poet
How does your art and poetry combine artistically in your life.
My photography is poetry without words — not my “snapshots,” but my heart-driven photography. There is no difference between my internal force (creative spirit) of photography and poetry; nor any difference between writing poetry and composing music. They are of the same source, the same DNA, so to speak. Different mediums are entirely that — different functions; their source is a singularity of self within. In that, I move from one to the other without thought, a routine of creative flow; and, mainly, I’m unaware of its workings. I just go.
Mapping the Poet
How does the place where you work and live, and a sense of place in general influence nourish and ignite your work?
The earth is where I live and work. A home is a speck of dust in the eye of the universe. All things, coming and going, birthing and dying, blooming and wilting, are my inspiration. The simplest things often intrigue me the most. Have you ever seen dust in a spider web, or a snail in a yellow rose? It’s these that catch my eye and lights my creative fire. Listening to a railroad train chug by — my music arrives; watching a hawk snatch a squirrel ignites my poetry; meeting a child with leukemia startles my heart and drives me to offer chi kung healing even if it is to simply relax the child and help her transformation to be smooth and loving — embraced by the feel of confidence.
All Things One
by Don Baird
from tragedy to butterfly
wrapped bodies to priests’ tears
transcendence of the moon
gunshots and bombs
children playing war
birdsongs disappearing into the night
random in nature
nothing by accident
through it all
out of darkness . . .
a light autumn gust
never ending . . .
the wind blows
longing for home I become a memory
Don’s books, Haiku, the Interior and Exterior of Being, Haiku Wisdom and As The Crow Flies are available on Amazon.
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