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.


Lucy Ladham-Dyment said...

I love reading your blog.

Leslie Jane Moran said...

Just this morning I saw an article from Oprah on Mary Oliver. I so admire anyone who can plumb the depths of meaning and put it into prose. Hope you keep up - my most cherished wordsmith!

me again said...

My uncle writes poetry, every single day. He says he can't NOT do it. It is fun to wrangle with words and I understand how Emma believes it fuels her creativity. Write on, Susan.....whether you share your poetry with everybody or nobody, write on!

Irene said...

I have to admit I thought poetry was out of style, and yet my son writes it often, we have our fingers crossed as I write that we get published. (we... I spell checked)

Ganga Fondan said...

I think sometimes we get too caught up in structure and forget that our lives are sheer poetry. Through the eyes of a romantic cannot help but flood through us. xxoo