I’ve always been interested in Simon Drew’s description of his process of writing poetry. Sometimes he tries to write a poem, but when the poetry really flows, the poems come to him. He does not feel that he is making an effort to write, but rather channeling something.
How does a person do that? Is it something only a rare artistic genius, visionary, or dreamer can accomplish?
Maybe, but I think practices of mindfulness, self-inquiry, and dream interpretation can help.
I actually have had a few poems come to me over the past few months. I’m not sure if they’re very good. That’s exactly the type of self-limiting belief that gets in the way of any type of effort.
I used to believe that I was not a good writer. I’m sure it came from experiences in my early education. Writing finally started to make sense for me in my junior year of college when I took a science writing class and the instructor said “They write the newspaper so someone with an eighth grade reading level can read it. Just take a complex idea and write it clearly enough that an 8th grader can understand it.”
I still don’t think I’m a great writer. I’m pretty sure my writing is sometimes rambling and unfocused. But I like to take complex ideas and write them in a relatively straightforward language.
I forget where I heard the quote, “if you write, then you’re a writer.” Once I started publishing blog posts, I started trying to allow myself the label “writer”. It feels grandiose to call myself a writer, philosopher, or poet, but if you write poetry, then you’re a poet.
One of the few times I ever wrote poetry was in 5th grade when I was “forced to”. I remember taking a sarcastic approach to writing poetry, as I did towards almost everything at that age. You want a poem? Well I’ll write one jam packed with as many poetic devices as I can manage. Imagery, Alliteration, Slant rhyme? Done. You want me to be an artist? Well here’s a post-modern haiku that’s missing a syllable.
An Ode to Grass.
Thank you thank you lovely grass.
I mow the lawn to make some cash.
If you were not on the farm,
What cows are might cause them harm.
If you were not on the ground,
All there would be were leaves that fell down.
Now that I’m a little wiser.
I give you lots of fertilizer.
There was a turtle.
It was very pretty.
It lived in a lake.
They ended up getting published in the school newspaper. So much for my self-limiting belief that I’m not a poet.
I’m not sure if you could say that they are “good” poetry, but they still make me laugh.
In the next month I plan to publish a few poems that came to me either while doing Stoic style journaling or recording dreams and dream interpretation. I didn’t sit down intending to write a poem, and often wrote these things in the middle of the night. Only to surprise myself and find it really interesting to read what I wrote the next morning.