At our Steeple Street Poetry meeting this morning, poet Judy Askew invited us to describe what inspires our poetry. It was an interesting assortment of answers:
Visual images or images from nature
Passion for life (poet Betty Jamison said since she is getting older, she wants to seize her passion now)
Emotional responses to life situations
Travels abroad and remembering interesting people met along the way
Song, dance, movement, intimate gestures
Moments captured in reflection
Love in all its forms, loss, parting, sorrow
The poems offered for critique were often astonishing in their power and beauty. There was a poem about returning to Germany and confronting the horrors of the Holocaust, one on meditating on a fall photograph, and another exploring what it means to confront death. Several poems were more lighthearted: a children’s story based on the Night before Christmas, a memory of playing with a Ouija board as a child, the sensual description of a tree in fall.
Since our poems inform our lives and our passions, it is helpful to think about what has inspired them. Sometimes it’s good to experiment, to open up the white space on a page, use original words and images. My son, Devin, said he likes to write poems that he can share with others.
Judy left us with some inspirational quotes from famous authors:
“Inspiration exists – but it has to find you working.” – Picasso
“Wherever you are is the entry point.” – Kabir
“The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” – Sylvia Plath
“Creative minds have always been known to survive any kind of bad training.” – Anna Freud
“A great poet […] must have the ear of a wild Arab listening in the silent desert, the eye of a North American Indian tracing the footsteps of an enemy upon the leaves that strew the forest, the touch of a blind man feeling the face of a darling child.” – Samuel Taylor Coleridge