I used to be really freaked out by the act of writing poetry. It felt spooky. Sometimes I sat down to do it, and nothing happened. Sometimes it did happen, but the results weren't worth the time spent. And sometimes it was magical.
I tend to organize my poems by seasons (well, by semester, really). There are some seasons where I only wrote one good poem. I let the ordinary world interfere. I let the spookiness spook me.
Sometimes it can be helpful to identify the elements that make poems come out easier. Here are my poem writing essentials. I bet they're different from yours. So tell me about it.
Poem writing essentials:
1. Time. I need 40 minutes to write a poem, but that doesn't mean it will be done in 40 minutes, or that it won't be done in 20. I just need to know that for 40 minutes, I will not be answering emails or the door. I won't pick up the phone. I just need a 40 minute stretch.
2. Scribbles. Even if it never makes it into the poem, I need a line or an image or a stupid turn of phrase to get me started. Maybe it makes me feel like I'm not really starting from scratch. Strangely, I get most of my ideas when I'm at the grocery store, and I write them on the back of my list.
3. Computer. I'd like to be the kind of person who always writes poems by hand (it's so sexy, you know?). Unfortunately, I can type much faster than I can write, and I edit as I type, even it it's a memo, so computer it is.
4. Internet. This is even more embarrassing. But I need to google things when I am writing. Some day I should teach a seminar on things I've learned from google and put in poems. Thankfully I have just enough will power to avoid facebook when I'm writing. Unless it's for research. Yeah.
5. OPP. I definitely need other people's poems to get mine started. Whether it's to get the creative juices flowing (I hate that expression, don't you?) or to write an imitation, or a response poem, or to remind myself why I save 40 minutes to do this in the first place. I have my favorites. Being jealous of someone else's poem helps me, too.
6. Somewhere else to go when it's done. If I don't leave the poem alone after 40 minutes, I'll probably dismantle it and possibly delete more than necessary. So I save and close. And then revisit.
So what are your essentials? Maybe we should try swapping essentials and see what happens.
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