In yesterday’s roundup of things I’ve liked recently I showed you this image:
It’s a piece of a poem that is written onto one of the piers of The Embarcadero. That pier also has some artwork on it:
I’m pretty sure that the pier is one of the even-numbered piers near the Ferry Building, although I can’t remember the exact pier number.
Today I’m sharing a post that I wrote several years ago. It was originally posted on my Real Words blog, which has since been taken down. Although the post is old, I feel like it sounds a lot like something I’d write or think today, and it remains one of my favorite posts …
My favorite feeling in the entire world is inspiration. I love to be in love, I’m thrilled during days when I feel excitement, I’ve even been known to thoroughly indulge in immersing myself in red-hot moments of anger … but if I could only feel one feeling for the rest of my life, I would choose inspiration every single time. Inspiration is that hard-to-capture feeling of being simultaneously aware of your complete interconnectedness with the world around you and yet sure that your voice matters in the big scheme of things. It’s that feeling that you have been so touched by something in life that you are compelled to find a way to channel it through yourself and back out to others, to act as the prism for the light of creativity that surrounds you. Inspiration is why I get up in the morning and work.
And some days, I don’t “work” much at all. But for writers, days off aren’t really days off. Sure, you may take a break from writing (you may even take an unfortunately extended break from writing) but if you’re living life, you are collecting material. Most writers’ books or art guides that you’ll read (and I can say “most” because I have a penchant for such books and have read many of them) will tell you that you need to consistently replenish your creative well. I’ve heard it described in dozens of ways, but what it boils down to is that it’s perfectly okay to give yourself permission to not work and to just be … because for someone whose life work is creativity, just being is the same as working. Because when you are out observing and absorbing the world around you, you are placing yourself in a position that allows for inspiration.
I wrote poetry on the insides of my eyelids the other day as I wandered around SFMoMA. There was art of all kinds on the walls around me … urban drywall installations covering entire rooms, photographs of dancers captured in the height of their movements, scupltures by painters and paintings by sculptors … but I didn’t look too closely at any of it. Instead, I just wandered, meandering through the crowd that fills the museum on free admission day. People-watching. My eye was caught by an older woman dressed in bright blue, with a scarf to match tied around her hat. The hat was yellow straw but she could’ve been a member of the red hat society if her vibrancy was any clue. I eyed her for only a moment, lost her in the crowd and moved on.
The flecks of paint swirled around me on canvases encased carefully on the walls of the museum and crusted onto the jeans of the art students who critiquely walked the rooms. Momentarily, I met eyes with the strikingly bold irises of a student writer who was gathering material for the character for his next book. Or so I think he told me in the brief glance that connected our gazes before one of us turned away. I don’t remember anything about him other than the brightness of his eyes, made brighter by what seemed to be natural eyeliner rimming the bottoms of his lids. The funniest things will make impressions on you if you’ll let them. So I sat and I walked and I stood and I watched, soaking up what was around me without planning to turn it into any kind of writing. I was simply allowing myself to be filled up with impressions. I was refilling the artistic waters of my creative well. I was opening the door of my writer’s mind to the inspiration that I am always hoping will walk through it.
Not all days are good days, creatively speaking. But all of them have the potential to be.
As part of my random 3 digit reading project, I discovered a Smithsonian book on different types of shells. Of all of the books that I got that I probably never would have picked up on my own, this one is the one that has drawn my attention most so far. (Thanks to @adanishheart for a really great lucky number!)
The whole point of this project was to inspire something new for me and this totally has. Although I have occasionally looked for shells on the beach, admired beautiful shells and even kept a handful of them in a vessel in my home for awhile, I’ve never thought one way or the other about them. This book has taught me that there are sooooo many different kinds of shells, that they all have histories and their own unique parts and stories.
And I’ve just fallen in love with the language in the book, the language of shells with their whorls and spires, their iridescent pearlized insides and concentric ribbed outsides … It has been awhile since I’ve felt like writing any kind of poetry but this book totally re-sparked my poetry bug. In fact, I went to a coffee shop today with a new notebook and the book on shells and five poems came flooding out of me. Of course, they are the bare bones of poems. They need to be edited, explored, worked on. But the structure, the spark, is totally there. I felt inspired. I love inspired!
I also have an idea for crochet shell art that I’m developing in my mind. We’ll see, we’ll see. What a fun adventure!
I’ve been spending quite a bit of time on Twitter lately. After a lengthy period of adjusting to using the site, I’ve finally come to really like Twitter. I feel like it’s giving me a great opportunity to share links and ideas with other people.
One of the really fun things that I’ve gotten into doing on the site is participating in a daily poem project that @dragonblogger does. Almost every morning, he puts out a request for people to send in random words. These random words are then worked into a poem for the day which is posted on the Wanderer Thoughts blog.
These poems are always really interesting. Sometimes the words that are submitted are really challenging. For example, check out Unstoppable Disease which included a lot of medical words in it. (My word for that day was simpler: productivity).
This is just a fun little project to participate in when I think about it as I’m on Twitter. I think it’s inspiring to do little daily projects and this is an example of a good one.
People seem to take poetry way too seriously. I think it’s because of the way that poetry was approached in school. We were asked to deconstruct the meaning of every line of poems that probably didn’t interest us. Sometimes a red wheelbarrow is just a red wheelbarrow, you know.
But poetry is meant to be fun. Even when it’s not happy, even when it is intense, it is meant to be an experience that we immerse ourselves in. It is meant to be something that we enjoy.
Celebrating National Poetry Month is all about bringing that fun back to poetry. It’s about honoring the fact that poetry exists in our history and in our modern lives. It’s about finding that poet that you can fall in love with and reading his or her works again and again. It’s about attending poetry readings and feeling the energy of a crowd or getting lost in the page as you pen your own poems for no one else’s eyes.
There are many small things that we can do to celebrate poetry but the main thing is to stop looking so negatively about it, to stop taking it so seriously, to stop thinking that we know what it is and instead to give it a chance to reveal something new to us. Who knows, it may just make us laugh with glee!
Every month I sit down and list twenty small creative goals that I’d like to complete in the month. I usually get at least half of them completed which makes me feel like I’m adding creativity to my life on a regular basis. I truly believe that almost anyone can do ten small things in a month that add up to big creative changes in their lives.
April is National Poetry Month so perhaps we should focus on what we can do that’s creative and related to poetry. Here’s a look at ten different small things that most of us could do to bring poetry to our lives this month:
- Write out a quote about poetry. It doesn’t take long to find a quotation about poetry that we like and then to write it out on nice paper. Hang it somewhere that you can see it throughout the rest of the month to feel inspired to appreciate poetry.
- Attend one poetry event. There must be a poetry reading or poetry slam somewhere in your area this month. If you’re free, take a few hours out of your day to go on a poetry date with yourself.
- Check a book of poetry out of the local library. You don’t even have to read all of it. Just read one or two poems this month.
- Write a poem. It doesn’t have to be perfect or even good. The idea is just to get your creative juices flowing.
- Blog about poetry. If you don’t blog, write about poetry on your Facebook or Twitter account.
- Watch poetry videos on YouTube. There are recordings of people reading their poetry, visual poetry pictures and footage of poetry competitions.
- Buy those poetry magnets and play with them.
- Go to a bookstore and read a children’s poetry book. You’ll be reminded of the fun of poetry!
- Copy a favorite poem and send it to someone you love. Share poetry month with others!
- Give poetry a chance this month. Most people ignore poetry a lot of them. Do anything at all that allows you to give it a chance.
What are you going to do to embrace National Poetry Month?