10:11 am, Monday, 3 January, 2011 – Atlanta
Hello everyone. Are we all back? 2011 has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? As most of us have been in holiday mode for a couple of weeks I will ease back in and keep myself to one mantra.
In my first Monday Mantras, I stressed the need to read, WRITE, and don’t worry about getting it right. I am going to come back to that on a slightly different tack. I have, in several blogs, stressed the need to build your resources by collecting words, phrases, images, and lines. I would like to add ideas and, after a couple of months wandering poetry blogs, photographs.
We frighten ourselves with many things: blank pages, getting it just right, others reading our work, others liking, or not liking, our work, not being able to write. Our brains spend a lot of time trying to psych us out. We need to circumvent the roadblocks and one way to do that is to give ourselves permission to write wretched poetry, or prose, to write stuff to which our immediate reaction is: Oh, ick! When that happens, I write Ick! next to the offending piece and move on. Don’t throw it away or scribble it out [Next Monday that’s another mantra].
You have nothing to lose by trying, but it can be oddly difficult sometimes. By now, whether seasoned or new as a poet, I hope you all have your resource pool and that you keep adding to it. If you aren’t sure what to do next, I have three possible directions for you to go.
We all need ideas, a topic, or focus to write about. Some of us come up with ideas more easily than others. I’m one of the ones who needs to actively work at it. I collect clippings and articles from the newspaper and magazines. I jot stories that people tell. And, now, I take photographs and look at other people’s photographs for inspiration. Some of my favourite poems have been found in photographs. Another reason to take photographs is that when you write poetry for one of the many blogs that offer prompts, a photograph can add dimension to your poem [or the other way around]. If I don’t have my own photograph, but I find a perfect one, I write the photographer for permission and have never had anyone say no. My favourite is a rug shop owner. I found a rug I needed in his photos for his store.
Next, If you aren’t already engaged in posting poems in response to a prompt, start. It took me a while. I had to get my head around writing poems I want to keep for submission vs. wanting to post the poems I write for the prompts. I haven’t reached a clear decision yet, but I have started posting some of my poems. In fact, this month I am engaged in Fiona Robyn’s and Kaspa’s International Small Stone Writing Month. If you have not visited A River of Stones yet to check out the challenge, do. It’s fun and the site keeps a blogroll down the right side so you can check out the stones being contributed. I am keeping mine on another blog, if you are curious as to what I am doing: Random Stones.
Last, if you usually write freeverse, try form. If you stick to form, try freeverse. If you like to rhyme, write without endline rhyming; try for internal rhymes. If you avoid end rhymes [as I do], try some; your aim is to not sound like Dr. Seuss, or a Hallmark card…both dangers for people who are not used to rhymes. I wrote freeverse for years before I girded my loins to try a pantoum. I discovered I have a knack for them. You will never know what else you can do, if you don’t try. I find a pleasure in working an idea into a form. I find the restrictions and constrictions help me think. I focus better. I work even harder at making the poem work because there are rules. This year I have written my first rondeau, cascade, and sevenling. Not everything works with a form, but some things are enhanced by form. One of the best resources for forms is Robert Lee Brewer’s site Writer’s Digest: Poetic Asides. Look down the left side for poetic forms. You will find them all.
It’s a good thing I decided to stick to one mantra. Tomorrow a poetry exercise, Wednesday may be a status report, Thursday, finally, a discussion on The Poet is Never the Speaker, and Friday, a roundup.