POETIC INSPIRATION IS LIKE A TINY SEED that is planted in the fertile soil of our souls. But for a poem to grow inside us it needs to be well nurtured.
A poet may ask, what moves me and how can I express this thought/feeling? Is it a rotten reality or some sweet fantasy or the amorphous grey in between? What concerns me most, is it the fundamentals or the details or one very specific part of the whole?
Anything, any object, subject, issue, cause, place, event, action, character trait or physical feature of something or someone you know or don’t know may provide a spark of inspiration.
Combine that inspirational idea with your personal experience of life and try to look at it from different perspectives. Add a good dash of imagination, apply your skills and the poetic techniques that you’ve learned and voila!
Sounds easy, no?
But sometimes inspiration seems to avoid us. And at other times whatever has inspired us may be difficult to put into coherent writing at that time (although poetry leaps beyond logic), and perhaps we need more time to learn and grow. So wait for it while pursuing something that allows your mind to expand in another way.
If you get a good idea then start writing down a few words, leave it to stew for a while and then check on it later. Some poems may take a while to complete, while some may come all at once. Patience and persistence are two sides of the same coin. And practice makes perfect.
One interesting exercise method is to use lines provided by some other source. You never know what might happen when your creative mind is let loose because the possibilities may be endless.
In the poem below I used a starting line (provided in a text book) which had eight syllables to make a structured poem of two eight line stanzas with eight syllables per line.
I’ve found that writing structured poems is helpful sometimes because it keeps me in check from writing a lot of nonsense that would otherwise not add any more quality to the poem than using only a few select words. Also keeping syllable counts provides meter and thereby good rhythm.
Lapieh Landu uses structure and repetition very well in her poems; her latest two quatrains, Seeds of conquest and Evolutionary tongue have stanzas with an abcb rhyming pattern.
Some poets prefer to use free verse with simple wording that conveys a poem very clearly and concisely yet with a great depth of feeling. Jimmy Drekore and Imelda Yabara do this very well in their poems.
Other poet’s writing in free verse, like Leonard Fond Roka, Jeffrey Mane Febi and Eric Kowa, use striking detail and unusual wording or phrasing that can enthrall the reader with its fluency, frankness and ferocity.
But whichever style suits your purpose, remember that a poem should have ‘the best words in the best order’, no more and no less.
In a corner of my bedroom,
Wedged between walls and a bed post,
I found an earring you had lost.
Twelve months and forty-seven days
Of living had somehow missed it;
Some things are too easy to lose.
I took it to the kitchen bin,
Then made a cup of strong, sweet tea.
I found one again yesterday,
Stuck on the kitchen window sill,
Where I gazed on a vacant lawn.
That earring too went in the bin;
Some things we can just throw away.
Many precious things come in pairs.
But matching pairs are sometimes lost;
And found, piecewise; or thrown away.