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Juicy Journals & Wild Words
Creating a Poet's Journal : (Part II) Page 3 of 3

Creating a Poet's Journal Part 3

continued from page 2

Portable Inspiration

A poet's journal is more than a place to record poems and ideas for poems. When it's done right, it also functions as a portable fount of inspiration; a ballroom in which to dance with your Muses. It is a tool that teaches you to keenly observe the world around you, and challenges you to imagine the unseen worlds beyond the realm of the real. What belongs in a poet's journal? Ideally, there should be space for everything that inspires, challenges, and interests you. Horse races and firemen and martinis and puppy-dogs and mermaids…It might be simpler to ask what does not belong, for the answer to that question is easier: there is nothing that does not belong in a poet's journal.

Here are a few things I always keep in my journal:

  • Inspiring pictures or postcards for free-writing and photo elicitation.
  • Quotes from artists, writers and poets to spur me on towards greatness.
  • Word-Hunting: Create lists of interesting, unusual words. Scan your surroundings for words you can steal — if you're at a coffee-shop, for example, you might notice the poetic quality of the different names of coffee blends: Twilight, Velvet Hammer, Fog-lifter, Aztecan Spice. At a Laundromat, you might find Shout, Snuggle, All, Tide, or — in Durango — Seventh Generation. You might not ever use these lists for anything, but they can be fun to play with, and good additions to your word-pool.
  • Lists of place names, fictional or real; imagined or not, you can use these in a story or a poem. You can also create a separate list of names for characters; fictional first and last names you like; interesting combinations of names, rhyming names and alliterative names; or names that tell something about the person they belong to.
  • Poetry Challenge: Leave some space in your journal for a poetry challenge. How quickly can you write 100 words? Time yourself, and then try to break your record. Or see if you can write a haiku every day for a week. Then, write a haiku very day for a month. If you're really feeling ambitious, write a haiku every day for a year.
  • Book-Surfing: Go to your favorite library, bookstore, or even use your own books at home for the following exercise. Seeking the answer to a sticky question? You'd be surprised how much insight you can get from a random page in a book while book-surfing. Hold your question in your mind, or concentrate on an intention such as "Inspiration" or "Overcoming Writer's Block." While you are focusing on this, cruise the shelves casually. When a book catches your eye, or seems to leap into your hand, open it at random. Still focusing on your question or intention, let your eyes fall naturally upon the page, and read the first thing that catches your attention. Strangely enough, more often than not, this is an amazingly accurate and synergistic way of tapping into inspiration and wisdom beyond the furthest limits of your imagination.

The Common Thread

Don't be afraid to create work that speaks to everyday life. Poetry does not have to be about true love or majestic mountains or epic adventures; but it must be true. You can write a poem about washing dishes, falling in love with the wrong person, losing a fist-fight. You can write about ordinary things — a trip to the Laundromat; walking your dog; the sights and sounds of your neighborhood at night. There is beauty, joy, and enduring wisdom to be found in these simple things. Seek, and you shall find it. It is the poet's job to discover beauty in unlikely places, and send reports of her findings back to the rest of the dullards, who merely wait for proof of the marvelous and have no heart to seek it on their own. It is the poet who sends us postcards from the realm of the sublime. •

© Molly J. Anderson-Childers. All rights reserved.

Molly Anderson-Childers is a a highly creative writer and artist from Durango, Colorado. More »

3/5/09