Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Poem-a-Day Exercise

I discovered many things in the poem-a-day exercise, but the prime discovery was that imagination is like any muscle. As any dancer or athlete knows, the more you stretch and tone, the more articulate that muscle becomes. Writing a poem a day, even a stinky poem, strengthened that muscle to the extent that I don't fear the blank page or the need to write as much as I did at the start of April. I wrote my daily poem, and then some. I did my annual 12 poems for my local school's graduation ceremony -- one for each student -- and I didn't even flinch this year.

Are you afraid of the blank page? Do you shrink from writing assignments and constraints such as the poem-a-day exercise, or any others? I'm curious how many poets and writers feel spooked by the process, as I have. Inspiration (as they call it) is mysterious. But what I discovered was that it's always lurking under the surface. I imagine if one really wanted to, it would be possible to write a poem an hour. Well, not and hold a job. But still.

1 comment:

  1. I went to a poetry reading last night. During the break I got some sangria and chatted with a couple strangers. Then I ran out of schmooze and thought to myself, If I'd brought my poetry notebook I would sit down and write a poem.

    Then again I do carry loose paper in my travel pack and I had the portable writing surface of a library book (a mystery by Joseph Hansen) so I pulled out paper, pen, and book and started writing. The poet/audience member next to me later said, "Were you writing a poem?"

    When I acknowledged the fact he said, "You've got more balls than me."

    I can write anywhere at any time. All it takes is giving oneself permission to write crap. Many a first draft written under ideal circumstances is crap, anyway. And sometimes writing in the midst of distraction leads you to interesting places. On the other hand, it wasn't all THAT chaotic in the break between readers at a poetry event.