Writing exercises

Mostly, I've been skeptical. Especially of the exercises, workshops and seminars designed to "generate new work." As though a poem were a pot, the more the better. Maybe that's not even true of pots, but at least you can plant a flower in one. Poems should be rarer creatures.

With that prejudice in mind, and especially skeptical of any such rigid practice as writing a poem a day, I decided to take up a fellow poet's challenge and try to write a poem a day for April, National Poetry Month (an event that occurs mostly in the minds of poets).

Surprised by fluency, I'm racking up two or three poems a day. When as an adult I still spent a portion of every day at the ballet barre doing the same old exercises I had done when I was seven, I thought it was an art form unique for its repetitive qualities. Maybe ballet and piano playing. Can you imagine a painter painting the same strokes every day for practice? Not unless the artist is Chinese, dipping a brush into an ink pot and cranking out the thousandth bamboo leaf.

My daily poems are becoming not an exercise but an obsession with limbering my imagination. Call it the Muse, call it accessing the subconscious, call it whatever you will, but there's a gate that can be somewhat pried if you practice opening it. I won't say what you enter by going through it is a field of genius. But it helps the work. Definitely. Try it for a month and see.

I plan to make May National Poetry Month as well.