Inspiration is what fuels the poem.  Finding something (or someone) that ignites a flame in you, is where the poem begins, words take shape in your head, feelings erupt into images and, slowly (or perhaps in a fury) the poem is born.

My husband and I ride a tandem bike.  We ride for miles and miles, through the glorious hills of Litchfield County, Connecticut, USA.  I am the pedal power on the back seat.  And while I sit there, pedaling away, my mind sometimes wanders.  I see, in fall, trees with their leaves turning to gold or, in spring, the beginnings of buds on trees, and flowers in fields.  In summer, I am captivated by fields of corn swaying in the wind or, sunflowers reaching up to the sky or, just beautiful, loved gardens stretching around the perimeters of carefully mowed lawns.

Inevitably, images pop into my head, lines start to create themselves and sometimes, I take my pad and pen from my pocket, lean it against my husband’s back, and start jotting things down, afraid I will forget them.  Poetry is kind of like a river – it flows freely, scrambling over rocks (those moments when you struggle to find words for feelings) crashing down waterfalls, and resting in deep, silent pools, a place of secrets and inspiration.

The point of this lesson is, of course, that you must always be prepared, as a poet or writer, for inspiration to come at you out of nowhere, or everywhere.  As poets, we write because we must, because feelings become too much to hold inside and need to find a way to be released.

One of the ways I make sure the poem survives the miles and miles of our bike trips, is to jot down (or, if you are technologically up to the minute, recorded on your phone) a single word, a short image, a thought, a feeling.  My pad may look like this after a ride on a summer day:

“A riot of red roses…”

“Yellow and blue and red…”

“Wind-blown and wide-eyed stand the sunflowers…”

“Warm the wind and warmer still / the welcome of the flowers…”

“Green and gold and bathed in sunlight…”

To be honest, I’m not really sure, most of the time, where these lines will take me.  Sometimes, happily, a poem is born and sometimes, the lines get filed away on a shelf next to my computer, possibly to become poems another day.

The point of this lesson is this – be aware, be prepared, be open, be ready and always, always have some way of saving your thoughts and feelings so that they may, when time and your muse allows, become the poem you need to write.

~Susan A. Katz

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