I am in a discussion with a friend who says she has never written poetry in her life but she’s going to begin now. Go Silvia! That’s the spirit!
The best advice I’ve ever heard about becoming a better writer is this: To write better, read more.
This holds true for any kind of writing. Read and read and read some more. What’s going to happen is that you’ll start your very own *Three Pile System* to sort the writing you are ingesting.
Pile #1 Stuff to be ignored. This pile may be golden fleece to some, but to you, it just doesn’t vibrate as something of great value. It’s the Universe telling you to “Let it go, Elsa.” Move along…
Pile #2 Interesting bits to contemplate. Like crows are drawn to shiny objects, poets/writers are highly attracted to clever turns of phrases and memorable descriptors. These are the bits and bobs we tuck away to use as future inspiration for our own word crafting.
Pile #3 Ecstatic Revelations. These are those magical pieces that bring the tears, the clenching of the heart muscle, the gazing off in the distance while your mind rolls the words around again and you marvel at the poets deft hand in its creation.
Super long story short- Your collection in Pile #3 are the styles of writing that best suit you. This is the native language of your internal country. And if you grab a pen and start journaling your thoughts that way, your true writer’s voice will begin to emerge.
I know now that every time I tried to write something in a stuffy (to me) iambic pentameter or adhering to hard and fast rules about format, what emerged was garbage, because it just wasn’t my style of writing. You need to find your Poetry Hero out in the wide world and read everything they wrote. Then find a few others who write in the same style and study them as well. And then grab than blank paper and let your own words fly.
My style is closer to how I speak; free form and spiced with images that make some people uncomfortable, others intrigued and still others, humored. It’s my own truth.
Now, you need to go find your own truth and say hello. Then drag that person out so we can meet them as well.
“The soul should always stand ajar, ready to welcome the ecstatic experience.” – Emily Dickinson
Some of my personal Poetry Heroes, long gone and contemporary…
While others are hurrying to and from daily tasks with their gaze downward, full speed ahead, poets move through the world a bit differently.
We poets are quietly watching the hum of the world around us with our paper nets at the ready to catch the gossamer inspirations floating on the air. We curate words and ideas for our collection.
We observe the subtle movement of life around us. We make notes. If a device isn’t handy to tap out a note, any scrap of writing surface suffices. A cafe napkin, the back of an envelope, our palm- anyplace that ink will mark the moment so we can take it home and get to work.
Back in our writing place we reach for fresh paper or a laptop and then shop through our notes and overflowing minds for perfect words. Like sorting fruit at a farmers market, we hold words in our hands and weigh their value, keeping some and discarding others. And when we’ve found the very best to work with we begin.
In the 2020 isolation, we needed to celebrate our art in a safer way; one that would last long after a gallery show had been torn down. A few of us at that are members of the Northport Arts Association created a video presentation, The Night Sky Poetry Project, that ran in conjunction with an NAA art show, a photography workshop and a lecture featuring all things stars and celestial. It honored the Dark Sky Parks being opened around the globe by showing in words and art how that vast sky above us inspires creative endeavour.
Last summer we reached out to local poets and NAA member poets asking them to write new night sky inspired poetry or to share with us some of their older pieces. Artist and Poet member, Lydia Woodruff, joined me to combine those poems with more work of famous and contemporary poets. Lydia led the way with her video editing and images created by our artists members combined with public domain images from NASA and the Hubble Telescope. We brought in local acting talent and poets who recorded readings of these poems in my home. The final video presentation debuted during the Dark Sky Week 2020. You can see our video here…
the Night Sky poetry video…
There really isn’t a place for us to get together and talk about our poetry, or a place to share it if we don’t already have a blog with followers or an active publishing career. This blog, this website, is where we hope to keep the flow of our words going.
This LeelanauPoets.Org website will be a place of showcasing, learning, celebrating and collaborating. Though I am starting this space and populating the start up pages, I am hoping to fill this site with our poetry, guest blogger posts, writing word prompt challenges, poetry contest information and news.
I’m going to be reaching out to poets I know who will offer workshops in person as soon as it’s safe or virtually, where they will be accessible to anyone, anywhere.
By May, I’d like to see our poet members using either their own images to illustrate their poems, or, with permission, the images of other local artists whose paintings or photography we can pair for collaborative efforts across the membership.
Watch for announcements and check on upcoming wonderfulness that you may want to get in on.