Friday, March 18, 2011

Reading and Writing Poetry

Emma told me recently that writing poetry (and reading it) not only gives her ideas for her novel, but also makes her feel more creative. This surprised me. Although I used to teach fiction and poetry writing workshops, it never occurred to me that the two could be of benefit to each other. But it’s obvious really. Part of what makes a great poem—movement and strong imagery—also contributes to great fiction.
Back in May 1998, I set myself the task of writing a short poem every day. It’s not that difficult if you think of them as haikus: short and sweet.
What was interesting about this project to me was that I had to be deliberately aware of the something deeper that’s always going on. And re-reading these poems today, I could remember what inspired me to write most of them.
For example on May 6th, 1998:

Her heart
travels straight up the lead
into my palm…
As I recall, I was walking Lily very late at night and we passed by a bizarre girl. Even though it was a warm night, she was dressed in heavy, dark winter clothing from head to toe, and vibrating with anger. She terrified Lily who started barking madly—I could actually feel her doggie heart pounding at the end of the lead.
I’ve never done much with my poetry because I really don’t consider myself to be a poet. I think it’s partly because that kind of writing tends to be such a personal thing, you don’t want to admit to it unless you can polish your words up properly. (It’s a lot more fun not to feel you have to, though).
I had to laugh when I picked up the latest issue of The Oprah Magazine. There are several articles on poetry, but the P-word does not appear on the cover. Maybe the editors were afraid they would scare prospective readers away with the word POETRY, so they chose instead to lure them in by promising …How to Inspire the Best in You: Words That Sooth, Ideas That Delight—36 Pages You’ll Want to Keep Forever!
Enough said.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Fifth Year Blogiversary

Just this morning I realized that I’ve been blogging for five years today. Obviously not always faithfully or with consistent quality, but I’ve never thought seriously of it giving up.
It was Carmi who encouraged me to start a blog, and who could ask for a better cheerleader or mentor? Frankly, her enthusiasm, energy and willingness to try something new gave me the courage to try it myself. I have to admit I needed that push because my tendency is go inside rather than outside, and keeping a blog is a good way to stay connected to the big picture. True, I wish I had the drive to post original art several times a week and to write something transformational, but when you get right down to it, you have to blog in the way that’s best for you and groove to your own inner timing, even if is kind of hit and miss.
One of the good things about blogging is that you become accountable to yourself and others. Three or four years ago, I was posting a digital ATC here on a regular basis. That activity, more than anything else, helped me to develop my Photoshop skills. But developing your creativity is just one of the benefits of blogging. For me, the most important thing has been establishing important friendships with people I would probably never have met in the pre-blogging universe. It’s exciting to know there are so many kindred spirits out there to share the world with, so thank you for stopping by and being one of my readers!