Poetry is Always a Good Idea*
*Quote from Proofs and Theories: Essays on Poetry by Louise Gluck.
Once I begin a poem, it absorbs me completely. I stay with it hour after hour; sometimes rewriting it long after I thought it was finished. The poem, it seems to me, sometimes takes some years of growing; I am able to come back to those first attempts and have an understanding of what the poem was to become. The poem ages, evolves, and goes through shifts over a long period of time, just like I do in my everyday life. Understanding our own work takes a very long time.
I began to write poetry as an undergraduate BFA student at Slippery Rock University of PA in the mid-80s. My first poetry publications appeared in Ginger Hill Literary Journal, published by the English Department. I was a fine arts major in painting, but English literature was a passion, too. I took so many English courses that it qualified me for entrance into the grad program after I received my BFA. I was in love with words and images!
In graduate school at West Virginia University, While I worked on my MFA in Painting, I continued writing poetry and I was reading a lot of poetry and saw that poetry is an art form. My perspective is quite different because of my Fine Arts background. My poems appeared in The Daily Athenian in Morgantown, WV. Modern and post-modernist poetry was influencing my life every day. My painting and printmaking was growing from the ideas I was reading in poetry. contemporary poetry was my lighthouse, and the more I was swimming towards it, the more I realized it was moving away as I wrote – I had to work hard to try to get to it, to capture images and words on the pages and the canvases. I had begun learning how to capture the senses in my work with words.
I did the unthinkable – I chose to accept BOTH of the offers in English and in Fine Arts programs. I actually did BOTH Graduate Programs at the same time. My higher education would be a hybrid of the pursuit of poetry and studio work!
While pursuing the MFA (the Terminal Degree in Fine Arts studio work) in painting, I started working on a MA in English at Slippery Rock University of PA – doing graduate work in 2 different disciplines at 2 different universities and in 2 different states – simultaneously.
The state slogan for WV is “Almost Heaven.”
But I was actually IN Heaven.
I am a Ranaissance woman who would continue to embrace the Humanities, follow my passions in Fine Arts and Literature. I knew I would never dig a deep hole down into only one genre, but I would pursue a hybrid path that was my own creation. I was truly a Post -Modern disciple!
Prepare for the Muse
As I write this essay, nearly 3 decades later,
I am still working to get the words right.
I struggle to evoke the senses that describe
what I portray in the poem.
My Process: GREAT IDEAS
- Make a Writing Space for yourself. Mine is in a room that steps down off of my kitchen. It is a room dedicated to be my Writing Space. I like to work with the radio on most of the time. The radio is in my kitchen so I can have music but not so close as to be a distraction.
- Organize your Writing Space. This area is your personal private place to do your work. Make sure it is not an area shared by anyone else. Be firm and declare this room or space to be only for you. Don’t give in to any demands for anyone else to use it in any way. Organize it to suit your intentions and needs.
- No Cluttering Permitted in your Writing Space. You need a peaceful space and any cluttering will be a distraction to you. Clean your space and organize it and make sure it stays this way. I believe a cluttered mind is reflected by aa messy and disorganized Writing Space.
- Ask yourself, “How does my life want to be lived?” I like to check with my “inner feelings” to be sure I am doing what my spirit really wants to do. With so many voices in our ears, we need to stop often to have a check on our “inner feeling
- I walk my dogs in the woods every day. Often, I hear a flock of crows overhead. Our thoughts can be like those crow sounds: loud and demanding. If we follow all those thoughts, our day can turn into a hot mess and nothing gets done. So stop and realize we need quietness and a “check in” with those quiet and still leadings that we have – our intuition.
“Set your pen to paper and live for poetry! Dwell in its wondrous city, whole and
full-hearted.” Sheila Bender
Find 1 or 2 writers you like a lot.
Read their work and write about what you like about that work in your journal.
Begin to search out their work so you can find common themes and quotes that have influenced you. Your chosen writers will become YOUR MENTORS.
A number of years ago, this was my list:
William Carlos Williams
Ranier Maria Rilke
(Today, I’ve added others on my list – b t this post is about our beginnings. We can talk about my literary mentors another day.)
Article and Photography by Lynda McKinney Lambert.
Copyright, June10, 2017. Lynda McKinney Lambert. All rights reserved.
Lynda McKinney Lambert
Concerti: Psalms for the Pilgrimage (Kota Press), 2002.
Walking by Inner Vision: Stories & Poems, DLD Books, 2017
Book is $14.95 and if you want it signed contact the me. Postage is $3.00.
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