Writing a Poem Isn't Rocket Science
I realize that I write with different processes depending on the piece. For instance, some projects are just perfect for a little preliminary long-hand work. But others?
Take me and poetry.
I cannot write a poem in longhand. It just flops on the page. Too limp in expression. Too wordy. Too... not enough of what I want from a poem. So when I write poetry, I kiss pen and paper goodbye and enter the world of daydreams. I stay in bed just a little bit longer, pretending to be asleep. Or I exercise. Or drive. I do things that take me away and let my mind present images in rapid fire. I turn these images upside down and backwards, try on words and more words until they start to feel right. Sometimes I do this directly from the keyboard too. Let me illustrate the process with a poem for today. And also say that that process is not as clean as this, but you get the idea.
Step 1: Choose an Object, Person, Event, Experience
Step 2: Daydream in Images (today it happened before I turned out of bed and now I'm adding to it here at the keyboard)
paisley, tattered, dark green, first apartment, sitting before fire with spouse, cuddling, nursing babies one and two, birthday guests, tortilla chips and salsa, home-made spring rolls, new nephew staring at design, kids bouncing on, kids leaning over to look out window and wave goodbye to daddy, shredded
Step 3: Consider Fate and Dig for Meaning
This couch is destined to be replaced as soon as possible. If we'd spent more money on something lasting, we could have held on to it for the life of our marriage, maybe even passed it on to children or grandchildren. As it goes, we'll be tossing out a piece of furniture to the sidewalk. The garbage truck will come and crush it, taking some part of our memories with it.
Step 4: Think in Verbs
toss, crush, drop, lose, mourn, release, turn
If we had known,
when we slapped
down a few hundred
dollars for dark green
paisley with a hidden
sleeper, if we had seen
it coming, the shredded
chintz, tatters, depressions
and how we would not
care to repair it because
it's too short for my
husband to sit on
anyway (hurts his back,
he says), then maybe
we would have dug
a little deeper, sacrificed
more to save for something
lasting, to keep through a lifetime
and pass on to children,
grandchildren. As it goes
we need to toss birthdays,
stray tortilla crumbs
sweat of bodies
embraced, stolen kisses,
accidental spray of suckling
milk, toddler bounces
and goodbyes to daddy at the
window. If we had but known.
Voila! A poem. Some images and verbs came through. Others slipped away. New ones appeared as the poem grew. Daydream time: about 20 minutes. Actual composition time: about 5 minutes. Writing a poem isn't rocket science, after all.
If you try this process and write a poem, let me know about it and I'll be happy to link to you.
High Calling Blogs' RAP: Dreaming in the Comment Box
Erica Hale's RAP: On the Fridge
Laure's 11 O'Clock Morning Hour
Ann's homecoming poem
Katrina's In the Stillness
Summer Rain Mixed Media art by Gail Nadeau. Used with permission.