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Inspiration

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Inspiration

Postby Cat Sith » Thu Dec 29, 2005 1:28 pm

Where do you all get your inspiration for poems? I have trouble coming up with topics but when I'm given one I can usually write something. It may not be good, but you know, for practice.

I want the inspiration to come from inside though, like bubbling up as something I want to write about. I guess that's what some people call their Muse. It happens sometimes but not nearly enough for my liking. Do you think that is like a writer's element that either exists within you or doesn't? Or do you think it is something that can be developed? If so, any suggestions how I can develop it?

Thanks for your thoughts.
Kim

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Postby Okieload » Fri Dec 30, 2005 9:55 am

I do often feel inspired when writing poetry. I would compare it to going into a trance state, and it feels great. Of course, the work then comes in the revision and editing stages, which are not trancey at all! I usually put some time between that first inspired draft of a poem and the reworkings of it.

I think there is both an art and a craft to poetry--so I think there's something that poets who still write had in their youth and have held on to (the art) and they work on making the best poems possible (the craft). There's some quote about we all having a poet inside of us when young but that for many of us, we let it die.

I kind of feel the same way about art. I remember being in art class in school and noticing how so many of us were artisitic (and I notice that with my 9th grade students now). Then, we lose it.

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Inspiration

Postby lauracatherine2 » Fri Dec 30, 2005 6:40 pm

Hi Kim, this is a great topic...one of the most important paths towards inspiration for me is time alone, paying deep but diffuse attention to my surroundings, and my responses to them. I also read lots of poetry and it always inspires me. My poem Pruning Shear made you curious about the wind...well, my poem was about the tree, BUT you might write that poem about the wind!

And WHENEVER I get the slightest tickle of an interesting line or phrase or observation, I write it down. I have notepads everywhere and spend about an hour a week collecting these bits into a text file I call "fragments". I notice a birds nest built into a cow skull, one year later it is a poem....

Nesting

It should come as no surprise
there is a cow skull
hanging on the outside wall of my old
dilapidated garage,
it's right at home with the peeling paint
unruly yard,
and the woman who reflects on loss.

On a particularly bereft day,
self-pity stacked way past my comfort zone,
I notice a tiny new
bird's nest
built inside the skull
sweet blue eggs laid
with naked faith,
and, poking out of the eye socket
slender stalks of green.

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Postby Nate » Fri Dec 30, 2005 11:23 pm

Kim,

This is a great topic. One that requires much thought. I agree with Laura's response, that reading poetry definitely helps get the creative juices flowing. I'm always inspired reading the works of others (especially those who I know have honed their craft, their writing seamless).

With myself, having an understanding of "the Muse's" unpredictability, I tend to use poetry workshop books that are filled with great prompts to get you writing. A great book is Steve Kowit's "In the Palm of Your Hand."

Also, I want to address the poet's (or writer's) sensitivity. I think one of things that makes great poems is a statement made praising some of Ted Kooser's work--"He makes the mundane sacred." We have to understand that poetry is everywhere, and that a poet's ability to see it when he/she looks out into the world, hear it in the conversation the couple in front of you is having at the coffee shop, is paramount to his/her development. I think the more one writes, the more sensitive one is able to become of the poetry around them.

But of course, there are always those wonderful times where the Muse does show up and something magical happens. But a writer's availibilty to his/her craft plays a factor in that. Do you show up at your writing desk, even when nothing happens? But I guess that's a whole other topic...

Kim, thank you again for this question, which made me consider these things. Good luck in your writing.

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Postby Cat Sith » Thu Jan 05, 2006 11:41 pm

Thanks everybody. You have given me much to ponder. I will persist!

Kim

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Re: Inspiration

Postby Agnes » Sat Feb 11, 2006 12:34 am

[quote="WordSith"]Where do you all get your inspiration for poems? I have trouble coming up with topics but when I'm given one I can usually write something. It may not be good, but you know, for practice.

I want the inspiration to come from inside though, like bubbling up as something I want to write about. I guess that's what some people call their Muse. It happens sometimes but not nearly enough for my liking. Do you think that is like a writer's element that either exists within you or doesn't? Or do you think it is something that can be developed? If so, any suggestions how I can develop it?

Thanks for your thoughts.
Kim[/quote]

Most of the time, my poetry starts with words, not necessarily topics.

A million years ago when we met at that other writing place in cyberland, Kimmy, we used to play a version of bouts-rimes. Do you remember? Someone supplied a list of words, and everyone incorporated the list into a poem. Later, I started a similar inspiration thing at Onelist. A couple times a week, I'd put up a list of six words for inspiration. Sometimes I'd include an extra challenge like 8-syllable lines or rhyme. People would share their creations. The same six words spawned a lot of different types of poetry.

Lists can be inspiring. Collect a list of words or phrases and place them down the center of a page. Connect the words/phrases into something that makes sense to you by writing on either side of the list. After you have something that sounds right, reshape the piece into lines, however you choose. Back in 1999, I did one of these using folder titles found at a poetry board. Here it is.

In the Poetry Corner

Long before the end of summer, she was told to read
before posting requests and announcements.
That was before a gypsy's love song cast its spell.
Now, a letter a day is her addiction,
and she finds herself alone, as morbid as they come,
assembling the pineapple with black ink.
She composes her chapbook: signings, symbols, codes--
much like those dead Christian gnostics. Chop. Chop.
Deep thinking is a depression, a hole, an emotional well,
but there must be 20 times 20 ways to keep from falling
in love with fantasy. Medieval, the way she chants
for your love. The forty-plus crowd ignore her nonsense;
they miss her graduations, her wedding, her haiku:
I hate you/idiots. In the beginning, there are insanities
and kindred spirits: Life, Love, Death and Suicide.
Life, Death and Lost Love woo her with midnight whispers.
Teen nature--now, this is not odd. Lured by contests
and awards, the woman-child doesn't know she should
avoid the spider's web and social commentary
from the over-30 crowd whose hormones have withered.
Really rotten rhyme and silver dreams adorn her.
She seeks sisters and sonnets, only sonnets, straight
from the heart. No one needs tell her: submissions wanted.
She's a swan. Lake be damned. She braves the ocean,
and symbolic rhyming poets like Hannah and Dan show
her the light. Brigades of little fish join her in the quilting
circle. When at last it's time for change, she says goodbye
to best friends, to true love, to war against the well-versed
ladies. She discovers it does not matter what inspires you.
She won't write: Why do I love you? You, only you, Zeitgeist.


The following poem originated in our Onelist group. It was inspired by the words: blood, Capricorn, cross, demented, hijack and hide.

Forget the Rules

Forget the rules. We're out of soap.
The electric razor is on the fritz.
Disaster blooms upon your chin
and blisters my tender throat.
Still, my blood runs hot.
Hide yourself between my breasts.
Punch the puritan quilt to the floor.
Our bodies form a demented cross
against the cold Capricorn sun,
and passion hijacks the morn.


Form can also be inspiring. Your sestina is an example of that. Sometimes these little (or big) limitations challenge us to make better poems. They can give us a more focused place to start than a generic topic can. I don't think I would have found "Forget the Rules" if someone had just said write about lust. Perhaps it's true that specific words rather than broad topics shape our lives.

Agnes

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Postby Nate » Sat Feb 11, 2006 4:26 am

That "Forget the Rules" is really good. Thanks for sharing.

Nate

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Postby Nine9 » Mon Feb 13, 2006 10:53 am

Coming up with insiration for poems is a lot harder for me than coming up with ideas for novels. Part of that is the fact I've spent so many years in novel mode. As I spend more time writing and reading poetry, I'm learning how to come up with my own ides, and the best way to put them into poem form.

I often write novels better under stress and with a hectic schedule, but poetry is the opposite. I need a chance to to relax and feel unpressured. The snapshot memories and phrases that often spawn a poem get lost when I try to multi-task. That's one reason I like poetry so much. When I read or write it, I enter a calm state foreign to the majority of my life.

For me, the best way to come up with ideas, at least for now, is by using prompts from books on poetry. "In the Palm of Your Hand" by Steve Kowit is especially helpful. I chose it among the dozens at my library because it had a picture of two hands making a string figure on the cover (and I'm a string figure fanatic). It may not be the most informed decision I ever made, but it is certainly helping me ease back into poetry writing.

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Postby MikeKeating » Tue Feb 14, 2006 4:49 pm

I just wait. I rarely use techniques for generating ideas, somehow it seems disrespectful. :?

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Postby Agnes » Tue Feb 14, 2006 5:14 pm

[quote="MikeKeating"]I just wait. I rarely use techniques for generating ideas, somehow it seems disrespectful. :?[/quote]


:lol: I never did get a good grip on that ol' respect thing. :wink:

Funny, some ideas look like crap 'til you get your hands in there and find out they're actually clay. Of course, sometimes you pick up what you think is a lovely hunk of clay only to discover it's crap. This is why mothers are always reminding kids to wash their hands.

Agnes

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Postby Nacona » Sun Apr 30, 2006 11:35 am

"I wonder if the artist ever lives his life--he is so busy recreating it."--Anne Sexton

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Postby Gary » Mon May 01, 2006 7:45 am

For me, inspiration either strikes because I'm doing something else and happen across something that seems like it's significant, or could be significant in some weird way. I went out walking this morning and saw a Winnie the Pooh ceremic thingamajig in a trash pile - either a cookie car or a large piggy bank. Unfortunately, it had sheared cleanly off at the head and so I was left with this image of a headless cartoon bear holding a "hunny" pot. There's *got* to be a poem in there somewhere, but I'll give that one away free (this could be another thread idea).

Hmm, I said "either" up there so there must be something else - oh yeah, forms. Working on a form sometimes frees up an idea that has been caught in a crack or crevice, because you're searching for rhyming words or words with the right number of feet.

I like the workshop idea of supplying exercises. Maybe we should be doing more of that here. Anyone and everyone feel free to throw one in as a new thread.

Two things that kill the creative spark for me:

- looking at a blank sheet of paper or computer screen and just thinking "I ought to write something." (I think this is why my blogging is so erratic)
- (this might be more controversial) watching too much TV/listening to too much radio, esp. pop music. There's just something deadening about pop culture. I'm not trying to be one of those bearded weirdos that smell of granola,* and in fact I think we as writers ought to be aware of pop culture**, but it does seem to affect the brain waves.



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Postby Jabberwhacky » Mon May 01, 2006 10:22 am

I miss the inspiration, I really do. I wish I could write again. Like joy or bliss or even driving a car, it is about oneness and harmony for me. Like resonance it resulted in an inflorescent expression of the soul's increased amplitude, an inability to hold the spirit within oneself. I do need a corporeal manifestation to attribute thought to and accuse with emotion. Poetry to me is the distilled result of perceiving, being inspired and finally expressing. But I have written about that too.

~ r
The Muse is an excuse. Write?

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Postby Agnes » Mon May 01, 2006 10:48 pm

[quote="ravi"]I miss the inspiration, I really do. I wish I could write again. Like joy or bliss or even driving a car, it is about oneness and harmony for me. Like resonance it resulted in an inflorescent expression of the soul's increased amplitude, an inability to hold the spirit within oneself. I do need a corporeal manifestation to attribute thought to and accuse with emotion. Poetry to me is the distilled result of perceiving, being inspired and finally expressing. But I have written about that too.

~ r[/quote]

How many car poems have you written, Ravi? I think I've written two. Have you written any cockroach poems? I haven't. Spiders, yes...


Agnes


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