One of the things I noted, when teaching poetry to children or adults or, conducting workshops, was that my students invariably had trouble figuring out what to write about. Often, I would provide the inspiration in the form of a subject or a phrase or, even a picture. Most of the time, that would inspire a poem or, at least, the beginnings of a poem.
The truth is, poetry and the inspiration for poetry, is everywhere. It can be found in the clouds or in the patter of rain. It can be found in a face that passes you by on a crowded street or, laughter echoing across a lawn on a summer day. It can be found in rainbows and the startled flight of birds. It can be found in a time of day or simply, a moment in time.
I found inspiration for my poem, in my newsletter, this week in the form of a lonely old gentleman sitting on a bench on New Year’s Day, at a beach in Connecticut. The poem happened to me in the way a thought comes to you, imperious and persistent, needing to be realized, needing to be put into words.
The lesson is – be aware – be aware of everything, all the time. A poet is a sponge, absorbing moments in time, inhaling them and then, in a rush of emotion and words, exhaling them onto the page, in the form of poetry.
You cannot write the feeling you’ve never felt. You cannot write the joy or the sorrow, the pain, or the panic, if you don’t allow yourself to melt into the moment and become part of the experience. As a poet, feelings are your food, your nourishment, and ultimately, become the poem. Only when you allow yourself to be open to the moment, can you truly experience the, sometimes startling, always rewarding, bubble of poetry beginning to grow inside of you until, at last, the words come, and the poem explodes onto the page.
POSSIBLE MOMENTS OF INSPIRATION:
Faces you pass on the street
Nature sounds/ thunder – water gurgling over rocks – bird calls in the distance – plane passing overhead – train whistle
Things you feel – cold – hot – ocean waves – grass beneath your feet
Scents – perfume – fire on a fall day – damp after a storm
Tastes – ice cream on a hot summer day – hot soup on a cold winter day – something sweet – something sour
And, once you have the thought, the moment, the time, or place, in your head, begin to think in terms of images that will, not only capture the moment or experience, but translate it so perfectly that your poem will recreate the moment, as clearly as a photograph, for your reader.