Friday, November 29, 2019

Wild Fridays: Moonlight Musings

Process and Product

I was having a facebook chat with Jasmine Logan (whom I featured here recently) when she accidentally sent me a photo of a whiteboard she was working on, mapping out a new poem. (She only meant to snap it for her own records.) When I say mapping, I mean mind-mapping.

I've known of this technique since first encountering it decades ago in the book 'Writing the Natural Way' by Gabriele Lusser Rico. She called it clustering. Here is an example from her book:

Since then it's taken off, been used for many different purposes besides writing, and is taught in schools. It's decades since I tried it as a writing tool, and then only briefly. I did the exercises in Rico's book, and they worked, but somehow the method didn't stick. 

I guess that's because, when you've been making poems since age seven, by the time you're an adult you tend to fall back on what's already working. (Much as, having learned to two-finger type when I was nine, I never learned to touch-type later. Every time I tried, I became impatient and went back to what I already did quite well enough for my needs.) 

Nevertheless I exclaimed to Jasmine, 'I love the way you work!' It looked so active and immediate.

I find process fascinating – especially the fact that we can have very different processes, yet all of them can produce excellent poems.

For me, poetry tends to occur as phrases, lines, even whole verses already formed. This happens whether they just bubble up into my consciousness, apparently from nowhere, or whether I decide to write on a particular topic (be that a prompt, or something else that engages me). So I start with what comes into my head, and go from there. Those original words usually do form the beginning of the poem, but sometimes they turn out to be at the end of it or somewhere in the middle, and sometimes they don't stay in the finished poem at all. 

I'm like the late Australian poet Judith Rodriguez, who was famously quoted as saying, 'How can I know what a poem will say until I've written it?' Even when I work to a prompt, I don't know where it will take me until I get there. 

I've been intrigued to discover that some of my poet friends work quite differently from that. They start with an idea of what they want to write about, and also have a pretty clear idea of what they wish to say on that topic. At least some of them then explore it in prose until it's expressed coherently, and only then begin to shape it into verse. Some very good poets work like that. It puzzles me, but I can't deny that for them it's an effective technique.

Then of course there are many other aspects to process. Some people need quiet in order to create. Noise doesn't bother me; I can tune it out. Some people like specific rituals to help them get into a creative frame of mind; others (including me) dive right in. Some find that listening to music somehow helps the words to flow. (Classical music seems to be what works best for them, I observe. Which may be one reason I don't do that, as I prefer other kinds of music which might not be so conducive. Blues could work; not so sure about heavy metal.) 

Some write best first thing in the morning, others late at night.

There are those who like to do a lot of thinking before they put pen to paper – even, in some cases, to go for a walk before they start writing, or to sit and meditate. And of course there are plenty of us now who don't put pen to paper any more, but fingers to keys. 

There are fiction writers who save newspaper cuttings to get inspiration for plots and characters. There are poets who fill notebooks with lists of words that appeal to them. There are people who go out to cafés to write; others who must have their own desk in their own room; others again whose most productive spot is the kitchen table. 

All methods work, but only some of them work for a particular individual. What do you favour?

Please tell me in the comments. 
I'd love to know your thoughts, and read your descriptions of your own processes.


I'm currently (at the time of preparing this post) reading Patti Smith's latest book, Year of the Monkey, and just came to the part where she describes herself and her late friend Sam Shepherd, towards the end of his life, working together on revising a manuscript, '... me reading and transcribing, Sam writing out loud in real time.'

She says: 'There are several changes and new passages which he verbalizes to avoid the struggle of writing by hand.' 

He's in a wheelchair at the time she writes of, and can no longer play his cherished Gibson guitar.

She says: 'Some time ago he told me that one must write in absolute solitude, but necessity has shifted his process.'

That would be a good place, aesthetically and philosophically, at which to end this. But wait, there's more! It's an important more.

'Sam adjusts and seems invigorated by the prospect of focusing on something new.'

Over to you! 

Material shared in this post is presented for study and review. Poems, photos, and other writings and images remain the property of the copyright owners, usually the authors.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Longing

    “Every person has a longing to be significant; to make a contribution; to be part of something noble and purposeful.”— John C. Maxwell


“Sometimes when I look at you, I feel I am gazing at a distant star. It’s dazzling, but the light is from tens of thousands of years ago. May be the star doesn’t even exist anymore. Yet sometimes that light seems more real to me than anything.”— Haruki Murakami, South of the Border, West of the Sun

       Midweek Motif ~ Longing

Longing is an all-embracing emotion. Intentionally or unwittingly we incorporate ‘longing’ in whatever we do. It’s our driving force.

When I look around I find young people desperately longing for freedom, stability; some ambitious ones running after wealth and fame; older ones with an eye for the happy bygone days now yearn for fulfillment; some long for joy, wellbeing and peace; in the face of adversity many simply long to escape; everyone wants to belong somewhere.

Longing to write in an almost impossible condition had prison- literature flourish in many countries. The famous Turkish poet, playwright, novelist, screenwriter, director and memoirist Nâzım Hikmet Ran was repeatedly arrested for his political beliefs and spent much of his adult life in prison or in exile. This much for those who long for creativity, words.

I cannot resist sharing one of Ran’s poem I Come and Stand at Every Door.

[It’s a plea for peace from a seven-year-old girl, ten years after she has perished in the atomic bomb attack at Hiroshima, Wikipedia] :

I come and stand at every door
But no one hears my silent tread
I knock and yet remain unseen
For I am dead, for I am dead.

I'm only seven although I died
In Hiroshima long ago
I'm seven now as I was then
When children die they do not grow.

My hair was scorched by swirling flame
My eyes grew dim, my eyes grew blind
Death came and turned my bones to dust
And that was scattered by the wind.

I need no fruit, I need no rice I
need no sweet, nor even bread
I ask for nothing for myself
For I am dead, for I am dead.

All that I ask is that for peace
You fight today, you fight today
So that the children of this world
May live and grow and laugh and play.

What do you long for?

Please share your new poem using Mr. Linky below and visit others in the spirit of the community—

(Next week Poets United Midweek Motif is Changes hosted by Susan & Sumana)

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Pantry of Poetry and Prose #5

Espresso Chai Pumpkin Pie, Pinterest

If I were to make receipts for every good thing you had ever given me, there would be not a tree left standing on earth, nor oil in the ground from which to make ink. Angela Abraham

Hello everyone! Happy Thanksgiving to you all in advance! This is Sanaa and I am back with another exciting Pantry of Poetry and Prose this Sunday.

This week Susan lifted our spirits with her Midweek Motif, "Awakening," to which there were several amazing responses! I, myself was lured into writing and pouring my heart out.

Rosemary introduced an exciting new feature, "Wild Fridays: Roving the Web," where she shared links to good stuff for writers! Do scroll back and check it out in case you have missed it!

For now, I invite you to share your entry, as Poets United welcomes both poetry and prose (i.e. stories, articles, essays) feel free to link anything new or old and relish in the work of others. Also, if you opt to share prose then please keep it to 369 words or fewer.

 Optional: For those of you whose muse desires something, here is a stunning poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox. Remember to give credit if you decide to write inspired by it. 

Pierre Bamin, Unsplash
 Next Wednesday Sumana's Midweek Motif will be ~ Longing

And now, without further ado, let us dive into the Pantry! Looking forward to grabbing a cup of delicious hot chocolate and reading you all! See you on the trail!🥧

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