Somehow inspiration has gotten a bad rap. I’m always reading about how real writers “do the work” and that those who wait to be struck by genius will never get anywhere. I don’t disagree. Sitting around and telling yourself you have to be in the correct state of mind to write anything will get you a lot of blank pages (or screens). But that doesn’t mean that inspiration is hindering or useless or a myth. You just have to be open to seeing the inspiring things around you. You need to be able to take the things that are given to you and allow them to awaken the creativity that’s already there.
I was recently inspired by a fellow blogger to get back on the poetry bandwagon. If you like poetry, you should really check out Like An Apple. She finds and shares amazing poems. Some, I have never read and some I had forgotten and am so happy to have back in my life. She’s also a beautiful poet herself. I often talk about how I don’t want to let poetry die. I was once a poet. I have been inspired to become one again.
I was always fond of form poetry–something else that has gotten a bad rap. In my experience, beginning with a form can bring ideas to the surface and sticking to a form can lead to some amazing uses of language that you wouldn’t ordinarily see. I’ve been playing with the idea of writing a weekly poem here for awhile and I think I’m going to finally take the plunge and begin. I don’t remember all the types and rules of the various forms and so I Googled a bit the other day and didn’t get very satisfying results. I took a walk over to Barnes and Noble to find even less help. Perhaps poetry really isn’t doing too well and needs my bit of help. Luckily, I saved my Survey of Forms in Poetry portfolio from sophomore year. I knew I had a reason for doing that. I had an amazing professor who is a great poet himself. He founded the university press at my school and honestly, was the first person who set me on the path into publishing.
So I pulled the dusty container from under the bed and got out the old black binder from so many years ago. I remembered that I got an A in the class. What I didn’t remember was the handwritten note from my instructor in the front of the binder giving me that grade. It is such an enthusiastic and encouraging letter that I feel ashamed for not having kept up my poetry. I read the poems that I wrote back then and found them mostly embarrassing and angsty–but I suppose that 19-year-old girls should be expected to write angsty poetry, right? But I don’t think my professor was wrong in his copliments. There are moments of good writing there; nice imagery, clear emotion, good pacing. Once again I found myself inspired, both by the words my professor wrote and the words that I did.
So I think I’ll follow the forms I used in that portfolio and start over again,one poem a week, here on my blog. It’s a scary prospect. I find it much easier to share stories about yoga and destructive toddlers than creative words. But I’m out to save poetry and I’ve got to do the work.