Monday, October 30, 2006

How Poems Happen

I usually write poems in response to my environment. Writing requires an effort on my part. Inspiration is a constant. Poems only happen when i sit down and work on them. And, some times this is easier than other occasions.

One of my favorite tricks is wool gathering. Like Wordsworth, Shelly and the other romantics, I like to take a walk and absorb impressions of this wonderful world. Of course the world is far less pristine than it was in Wordsworth's time, so I often walk among human ruins and construction sites. This contrast between the apparently eternal sky and sea, and the human race against obsolescence feeds my imagination constantly; but I rarely find a way to give voice to more than a thin description of the world.

Because the world constantly collapses around me and humanity has also lost it's grace, I frequently turn to memory for subjects and ideas. I had a far less cynical view when i was young and i try to recapture that innocent perspective. Very often i find that contemplating the past reveals lessons learned along the way. These are useful to retrieve because both life and art thrive on purpose and meaning.

The third great wellspring for me lies in other peoples words. Other people, both writers and regular folks, see the world as clearly as i do, but all of us have different ways of seeing and saying what we see. I try to use other people's accounts to get a better view, and expand my vocabulary so that one day i might really communicate with some one. To this end i react to poems and engage in critical discourse over word choices and metaphors. Some of my best efforts have emerged through trying to paraphrase another writer's work, or reconstruct a conversation from the past.

For me, Form makes the thing a poem. Most of the time my thoughts flit about like finches in a bush, (or flies around a corpse.) The effort of fitting my thoughts into a Sonnet or Haiku gives me great satisfaction, although for many readers, the spontaneous essence of the moment is lost. So sometimes my Haiku ramble on, and my Sonnets fall a few lines short. These are just forms. The Real Poems are still out there waiting to be written. And the Real Poets are the readers who somehow take in these bundles of syntax and typography and find meaning in them. Beauty, after all, lies in the eye of the beholder; and where there is beauty. . . truth


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