One of the questions I was asked repeatedly, in workshops by students was, how does one figure out what to write about. To me, it was a strange question because, I didn’t ever have to figure out what to write about, poems came to me like a soft breeze on a summer’s day or, a hurricane raging inside my head, until it became words on paper.
However, it was an honest question and deserved an answer. The answer was simply, you find poetry wherever you find life. You find it in smiles, and you find it in tears. You find it in falling in, and out, of love. You find it in birth, and you find it in death. You find it in something you hear, something you see, something you read in the newspapers or in a book or on a street sign. If you have poetry inside f you, it needs only the lightest encouragement to come pouring out.
My most recent book of poems, The Limits of Light, was inspired by a visit to the Villa Borghese in Rome. I walked in and the first thing I saw, was this amazing stone sculpture of “The Rape of Persephone,” a work of art inspired by a story in Greek Mythology. I was mesmerized. I couldn’t look away and, when we returned home to the USA, I read all I could about that particular myth and wrote the poem, The Rape of Persephone. And then I was hooked. I read everything I could about the Greek gods and wrote a series of poems that became the book, The Limits of Light.
Sometimes, we do need to look for inspiration. If you find yourself staring at the blank page, my best suggestion to you is, find a great book of poetry and read it. Nothing inspires poetry like poetry.
And finally, know that almost every writer, every poet has stared, hopelessly, at the blank page and thought, “I’ll never write again.” And then, of course, one magical and miraculous day, a poem came demanded to be written.