I wanted to share with you some of my poetic inspiration. Most how-to-write advice goes something along the lines of, "read, write and live an interesting life." So, along with writing poetry, I've also been reading poetry (not much I can do about the interesting life bit...).
To begin with, I pulled out this book:
Tender Hooks by Beth Ann Fennelly. I bought it at the bookfair at the AWP conference last April after attending a panel at which Fennelly read and talked about poetry. I really enjoyed her on the panel, but when I got home, the book got added to the boxes of books in my closet, "to be read someday." So as a bonus, in addition to inspiration, reading this book has helped me declutter. Yea.
Anyway, back to the book, many of the poems radiate the rapture of a new mother for her infant daughter, but she also explores love, sex, friendship and her own past in rhythmic, radiant language. I have savored every poem in this book. (Yes, I did just use radiate and radiant in the same sentence. And I meant it).
I've also been reading Sage Cohen's Writing the Life Poetic, which I've also owned and ignored for about a year.
I took Sage's great Poetry for the People class a couple of years ago, but after I got this book, it just kinda sat on a shelf. I don't usually get very far with technique books, because there's always an exercise at the end of the first chapter (and every chapter thereafter), and if I don't have time to do the exercise, the book languishes. I usually don't have time to do the exercises.
I'm letting go of some of this rigidity, in part because many of the exercises in the book mirror exercises we did in the class. Despite not following it lock-step, I am still getting a lot out of it. For instance, I read a chapter on writing a poem about something made up (to make the point that poetry is not all autobiographical, and even when it is, it takes on a life of its own, outside of the teller and her story) one night before bed, and the next morning I woke up and wrote a made-up poem. Another night, I read a chapter about point-of-view and immediately was able to attack a subject I couldn't approach in the first-person.
I want to give away a copy of Writing the Life Poetic to one reader of this blog. Here's how it will work: Each comment on any post this month with "Month of Poetry" in the title will be one entry (including this one). At the end of the month, I'll have a wrap-up post in which I ask you to choose your favorite (or maybe top three or five) poems. Comments on that post will count double. I'll put all entries into a hat and draw out the winner. The more posts you comment on this month, the more chances you have to win. Sound good?