LESSON 39 – ONE WORD AT A TIME

The very simplest definition of poetry is the fewest possible words in the best possible order.  We never, in poetry say things in “long hand” but rather, attempt to find the “shorthand” version through imagery.

But, writing poetry requires that we get started, put the words down on paper or type them into our computers.  To be a poet, one must discover the poetry living inside of them and to do that, one must be open to new ways of saying things, new ways of looking at things and, new ways of being ourselves.  Because, in the end, your poem is you in a written format.

When staring at the blank page I will often just think of a word – any word – and jot it down.  Perhaps the word is “sorrowful.”  I will think about it for a while and then, if nothing else comes to mind, I will think of words, and type or write them down, that begin with the same sound.  So, next to “sorrowful” I may write “sad” “somber” “song” “silence” “simple” “stream” “stain” …  Then I will see if I can find a way to connect some of those words and form them into a line of poetry:

“Sad and sorrowful was the song of silence…”  or “The stream of silence flowed through my head, staining my thoughts…”

Nothing is quite as daunting to the writer as the blank page.  It seems to taunt you, to challenge you but, in the end, you can always be up to the challenge if you just begin with one word and go from there.

If you suffer, on occasion, from “the blank page blues,” do try the exercise above.  Find a word, any word that seems to capture your mood and go from there.  You will be amazed, I think, at how often that will unblock the words and allow them to flow onto the page.

When the words seem locked away inside you, refusing to come out, use the simple one word “key” to unlock them.

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