I am pleased to have my poem, Weeding, currently featured in Repeat Poetry. It originally ran in Waccamaw Literary Journal. I like what Repeat Poetry does, which is to breathe new life to previously published work. It’s a site well worth following. The poems featured there are superb and I feel honored to have my poem among them.
Lately, I have been thinking about what inspires me. If I am in a poetry frame of mind, i.e. reading, writing about or contemplating poetry, which is nearly always, almost anything can–a word, a song, art, a cricket, laundry, a person. Often, those little jolts of zing that make you feel like you’ve been sprinkled by fairy dust come to nothing but sometimes they work themselves into something surprising. Occasionally non-poet friends will say, I bet there’s a poem in that, referring to a fender bender or some other stand-out moment in life. Well, sometimes there is and sometimes there isn’t. What I have learned is that it is more often those quiet moments in life, those seemingly insignificant touch-points that inspire, frequently not revealing themselves as the embryo of a poem until weeks, months, or years later.
A Poet’s Craft, A Comprehensive Guide to Making and Sharing Your Poetry by Annie Finch is a book I have been keeping close at hand. It is a textbook every poetry teacher should consider using. It is a wonderful reference for novice and seasoned poets alike. I picked it up at the AWP in Chicago this year and carried it home on the plane. It’s one and five-eighths inches thick and weighs almost two and a half pounds. I was concerned it might put me over my 50 lb. luggage limit. As it turns out, it would have been worth having to leave a pair of jeans or all my underwear in Chicago just to get this book home. It is the best thing I brought back with me from the conference.
The first chapter of Finch’s book is about inspiration. She talks of the muse, citing Sir Philip Sidney’s poem, “Loving in Truth” (1591), “…Thus, great with child to speak, and helpless in my throes,/Biting my truant pen, beating myself for spite,/Fool, said my muse to me, look in thy heart and write.”
It might seem as if a poet would need the greatest artistic faith and skill during the actual process of opening to the mysterious and sometimes scary water. But what happens inside those pools depends on the focus, the strength of heart, and the self-awareness that we develop during every day of our lives as human beings; beyond that, inspiration is largely a matter of surrender.
For me, surrender is the hardest part, the giving of myself over to the creative impulse, the understanding that I am constantly being handed inspiration at every turn of every day, that it is all there for my picking and choosing.
One of my favorite blogs is Brian Brodeur’s “How a Poem Happens” in which Brodeur features a published poem and interviews the poet on how the poem came about. One of his standard questions is: Do you believe in inspiration? How much of this poem was “received” and how much was the result of sweat and tears? Each poet talks about sources of inspiration for the poem. Reading over just a few of these, highlights how diverse are our sources of inspiration, and how important it is to surrender to creative invention, even if it is found in the pulling of weeds.
What inspires you?
© 2010-2012 Grace Curtis
Nice post, Grace. Sometimes my poems are inspired and sometimes the idea is manufactured as opposed to inspired. In either case, lots of sweat and tears go into making the initial outpouring any good as a cohesive piece.
Thanks for stopping by. You’ve made a great point Adriene. The idea, whether inspired or specifically prompted, is just the start. Often I find the inspiration occurs while I am into the sweat and tears of a manufactured idea. That’s nice too.
Great stuff here, Grace. YOU are inspiring, too! Congrats on poem and its repeat.
Awe, thank you, Kathleen. I love your all-things poetry blog at http://kathleenkirkpoetry.blogspot.com/.