Once you find where the weight of your talent lies, that’s where you start putting down roots.
I’ve had an idea for a novel noodling around in my head for a year and a half now. Just when I thought I was getting my feet back under me after my father’s death last year and began to sort through my research to start working on it, life threw me another curve ball. This time over my mother’s health.
It put me into a bit of scramble for a few weeks, but I’m reminded I also need to care for my own health (and sanity and happiness and…)
Not quite ready for something as intensive as a lengthy novel, my soul was still urging me to put pen to paper. So, I decided to write poetry for a while because it seemed something I could manage.
A few poems in and I felt like I was coming home – to myself and my origins in writing. To a craft that has saved me on more than one occasion. A home where I could put down roots for a while; to express thoughts difficult to articulate in few, but healing words, to go darker and lighter, and to ease the pain in my body and heart.
Soon I felt poetry taking a hold on me and I’ve decided to write a book of poetry.
I love love love David Leite’s advice and it’s worthy of taking note. Letting it guide you to find the core of your talents and to help you put down roots if you’ve been struggling to figure it out.
Just follow the clues in the things that you love to do and what feels like home to you. We can put so much pressure on ourselves to make a living from our passion, but sometimes attaching money to things can ruin the whole experience before it has a chance to take hold of us and grow.
In a way, I’ve come back to poetry out of necessity, but it’s turning out to be the key to unblocking my words again after a drought.
I want to experiment and grow in my craft and the two books I am frequently turning to for inspiration are poemcrazy by Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge and Selected Poems of Anne Sexton.
poemcrazy is filled with lots of writing practices to free the words inside. I enjoyed the chapter that suggests creating a word pool of feeling words. The practice suggests choosing a feeling, look at an image of art or a postcard and describe something in the piece that depicts your feeling.
I wrote a poem titled ‘I Feel…’ using this technique. In the poem I alternated stanzas between heavier and lighter themes. Here’s one stanza :
the willy nilly of hills around the next corner,
a tap tap tap on a new film reel,
anticipation with cheeks puckered pink and a button nose.
This is so different from my norm, and gets me thinking in a new way using images to convey feelings.
I’m also enjoying Anne Sexton’s poetry and experimenting to help me grow. Emulating work you admire is a great way to learn and help you to develop your own unique style.
Here’s one of Anne’s earlier works that has so much flow and intentionality… The Balance Wheel:
Where I waved at the sky
And waited your love through a February sleep,
I saw birds swinging in, watched them multiply
Into a tree, weaving on a branch, cradling to keep
In the arms of April, sprung from the south to occupy
This slow lap of land, like cogs of some balance wheel.
I saw them build the air, with that motion birds feel.
Where I wave at the sky
And understand love, knowing our August heat,
I see birds pulling past the dim frosted thigh
Of Autumn, unlatched from the next, and wing-beat
For the south, making their high dots across the sky,
Like beauty spots marking a still perfect cheek.
I see them bend the air, slipping away, for what birds seek.
Something new growing alive in the writing… the study… the experimenting… of poetry.