If you have ever said to anyone, "I wrote poetry when I was in high school (or college)." If you ever thought and I'd like to pick it up again, and been baffled by the question of how and where to start, here are a few suggestions that might help. If you are a more experienced poet, these suggestions can't hurt.
But first, a word about creativity:
The blank sheet. Is. Scary. So don't necessarily begin there. Give yourself some time to collect metaphors and images, ideas for poems you already have in your mind just waiting to be written. Don't be impatient.
**1. Begin at the Beginning
"We are dwarfs standing on the shoulders of giants," is a twelfth century saying, just as true today. How can we know where we're going if we don't know where we've been? Begin with a good anthology of poetry The Norton Anthology is the gold standard but any anthology that looks at poetry across time from Ovid to the near present will do. You don't have to read it all, just dip into a variety of time periods. The Romantics may not be your new best friends, so find a poet you like. Get a book of theirs. Read it.
**2. Read Contemporary Poetry
"I never desire to converse with a man who has written more than he has read,"
said Samuel Johnson, in the eighteenth century. It's as true today. Billy Colins Poetry 180 and Garrison Keillor's Good Poems series are fine places to look for poets writing now and Richard Hugo's book, The Triggering Town is full of marvelous essays As above, find a poet you love. Read.
**3. Have a Routine
Are you up with the larks? Do you stay up past midnight? Are you most energetic at noon? Pick a time of day, every day. Find a place where you won't be disturbed. Call these "my time" and "my place." Set them aside for your reading and writing. Do this every day.
**4. Be faithful to your work.
When her son was young, poet Naomi Nye got up at 4:30 in the morning to write and read until her family started stirring. She did this every morning. Show up for your own work. Put yourself in that chair every day. If one day the muse looks for you and you're not there, she may move on to inspire the next poet.
**5. Get a journal and write in it.
You do not have to be Sylvia Plath or Charles Simic. You can quote them in your journal along with fragments from your favorite television show or bits of a magazine or journal article you especially like. You can copy whole stanzas of a poem, whole poems, or simply a metaphor that catches your fancy. Be sure to have a pocket notebook for those stray images that crop up when you're driving or shopping.
Poetry Can Become A Part Of Your Life If You Are Willing To Let It. Let It.
** I Answer # 5 On the Creativity Questionnaire
What are your sources?
What you need explained,
I can't explain:
picked out by a flashbulb
into the convolute cerebrum,
then dims, a dying battery
a word or two, that few,
coming from the paleness
beyond the venetian blinds,
a moon full of itself, rises
into my casement.
Wendy Taylor Carlisle will teach the first poetry workshop in the Community Writing Program at the Writers' Colony on Sunday afternoon, Sept. 9, from 2-5 p.m. The cost is $25. For more information or to sign up, contact Alison Taylor Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 479-292-3665.