The point I'm getting at, is that it's really nice when writing is happening. It's nice to travel in a direction in which you're simultaneously progressing and enjoying the ride. But that doesn't always happen. For me, I have the biggest trouble writing when I'm outside of a poetry workshop, which is a problem since I only have a year's worth of college writing workshops left to motivate me, and unfortunately I was unable to take one this semester.
Yesterday, I was feeling particularly broody, about both my (lack of) writing and some personal jazz. I walked into my 9:30 class a half hour early and kind of let my mind frolic (or maybe wallow?) among the angst. This, in a surprising turn of events, led me to a not half bad idea. I don't know how the thought came up exactly (though I'm sure Valentine's Day isn't helping) but I thought about turning an expected love poem around a bit. What I decided to do was a experiment, where I wrote a list poem with the subject "In Response to the text, "I Miss You Baby. Take Me Back."
What I've found I like most about a good poem, by my own hand or someone else's, are really vivid, interesting metaphors an images. It's also one of the most difficult things to create in my own writing. So, writing this list poem was really a way to get my mind into poetry mode. All it's made up of is similes. Though the resulting poem as a whole isn't good, it's the process that's important. Forcing myself to come up with interesting images, to compare two things that don't conventionally match up, led me to some really interesting places. The interesting bits can lead me somewhere new. It's these little pieces of imagery that can take you somewhere new, somewhere you wouldn't have thought to go otherwise.
The "poem" I came up with has a range of silly and serious images, since I really have no clear direction of where I want my next poem to go. I figured with more variety comes more opportunity of something good happening. I don't know why I'm sharing this, because I'm kind of really squeamish about sharing any of my poetry, let alone a wonky writing experiment. So, uh, here's what I came up with
In Response to the Text Message, “I Miss You, Baby. Take Me Back.”
I miss you too, baby.
I miss you the way the sky misses a buzzing horse fly.
I miss you the way the moon misses a grubby astronaut foot, and a flag in the face.
I miss you the way a spiderweb misses a battering broom head.
I miss you the way an escaped circus monkey misses wearing a tutu, and clapping its hands on command.
I miss you the way a wool sweater misses a moth mouth.
I miss you the way a butterfly misses crawling.
I miss you the way a baby head misses its soft spot.
I miss you the way a scab misses a clump of pus.
I miss you the way my ears miss your flickering hisses.
I miss you the way my fingers miss curling in on themselves.
I miss you the way my body misses curling in on itself.
I miss you the way my brain misses curling in on itself.
I miss you too.
So, I ended up trying to come up with images that really kind of snarkily, and sometimes painfully, take the idea of missing someone and turn it on its head, to say, I don't miss you or what you're about at all. There are some images here that I feel like I can take with me into another poem, like the "moth mouth" or the "spiderweb/battering broomhead" or a body part curling in on itself like a dead leaf, or gnarled like tree bark. Basically, writing this, doing this experiment, forced me to think about poetry as poetry. I wasn't trying to portray my own feelings about something (though there's definitely bits of me in there), and I didn't go into writing it with any expectation of what the resulting poem would be.
I've been struggling so much with writers block since winter break began (and it's now OVER), so I wanted to share a post about it, and this attempt to try and overcome it. I'm no pro on beating writers block, but this was a good way to try to get myself back in the mode of thinking creatively without any expectations. Hope this helps a bit! And if you try this sort of experiment, or have any writers block advice, I'd love to hear what you've written or done!
(This book of poems (Mother Said by Hal Sirowitz) is a good book of poems. It's a shame my nose is reading it and not my eyes)