Updated: 4 days ago
Poetry writing is a remarkable a means of working the writing muscle, of regularly nailing down words to the page, of channeling voice and speaking up, as it were, to say what's brimming in me.
Poetry writing is challenging, certainly. It involves coming up with a concept, dealing in the precision of word choice, straying intelligently between abstract and concrete expression, and exercising the value of brevity. So how to grasp the art and science of poetry creation? Learn from the masters!
I engaged Emily Dickenson as my first teacher. I resolved to read her complete works, to let her every poem sink in, to absorb what insights I might. In reading her collection, I grew so inspired that I resolved to write one poem for every one of Emily's.
For some poems, I echoed the structure of one of hers, while for others, I let a concept germinate within me until I felt I had something to say. I often used a color, image, or sensory detail as a leaping off point. Occasionally, a poem of hers spurred a strong reaction in me - No, that isn't at all how it is, or - Yes! That's just it! And I was off, responding to her insights through my own poetic expressions.
I ended up with more than 600 poems spanning topics from nature writing, to love poems, to jaunts exploring the ways of the universe, to political thinking, to celebrations of beauty and the perplexity of living.
A main theme within the body of poetry I created turned out to be an exploration of the wonder of writing and a celebration of the muse. These, I cobbled together into a chapbook, Set the Night Singing, which I've shared on Amazon.
As is common to my experience as a story artist, I discovered that the juice delivering energy for writing these poems was love. Love for writing, and gratitude for the discovery of the written word as a means to navigate life.
And most of all - love for my characters and a hunger to reach them.
I hope you'll check out Set the Night Singing and enjoy with me the sense of companionship that we access through stories, and the forces that inspire us to write and venture into them.