Adapted from Writing for Bliss: A Seven-Step Plan for Telling Your Story and Transforming Your Life by Diana Raab
Why Write Poetry?
Poetry is the voice of the soul. Poets help us see a slice of the world in a way that we might not have observed it before. They highlight details to cast a light on a feeling, an image, or an event. Poetry also helps offer insights into both the human psyche and human behavior, and i
t is a place where the imagination can roam free.
Writing and reading poetry can be a springboard to growth, healing, and transformation. When you read or write a good poem, you will be forever changed; and writing poetry allows you to tap into your authentic voice, which can lead to self-realization. It can also be a form of meditation because it encourages a sense of mindfulness about what you’re feeling, seeing, and experiencing at the moment of writing.
What Is Poetry?
Poetry is a genre of writing in which succinct, vivid, and intense language is given to feelings, images, and ideas. It is a snapshot written from the inside out. William Wordsworth defined poetry as “the spontaneous overflow of feelings; it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.…” Typically, a poem has a distinctive rhythm. The more specific the poem, the better it will be. The best poetry inspires the reader to reflect, dream, reminisce, observe, and fantasize. Poems are written in fragments, and each line should have a singular image and feeling.
Many people begin writing poetry from a place of pain, loss, or grief. In his poem “Sunday Morning,” Wallace Stevens says, “Death is the mother of beauty.” This is a very spiritual way to look at poetry, because it is true that death encourages us to recognize the power of someone’s beauty.
In essence, poetry merges fiction and nonfiction. Employing poetic license means that you have the freedom to exaggerate or abandon facts while you’re writing, and do whatever is necessary to create a compelling piece. In your first draft, just let it rip, and leave the cutting and revisions for a later date. If you edit while you write, you risk impeding some of your creative flow and energy. When that occurs, chances are you’re not writing from your heart; rather, you’re writing from your brain. The problem is, the brain often tends to censor, which doesn’t always translate into the best poetry.
Letting Go and Beginning
Letting go is about just allowing life and experiences to unfold as they’re meant to. When writing poetry, try to release your rational mind and let your sensations and emotions take over. Letting go is also about slowing down and pausing while being mindful of what is stirring inside you. For some people, beginning a poem is the most difficult, but with practice it will become easier. When writing a poem, think of each line as a fragment, and each line break as a natural pause in your thoughts.
Begin by writing about something you feel strongly about. As you string the words together, feel the poem erupt from deep inside you. Writing in this way will help transform you and direct you down a path of bliss. Over time, you will learn what inspires you to write poetry.
Life provides all of us with so much material to write about. In addition to our memories, reflections, and fantasies, you may be inspired by the books or articles you read and the films you watch. Poet Robert Frost once deftly said, “A poem begins with a lump in the throat: a homesickness or a love sickness.”
Poems can often arrive when you least expect them to or when you’re doing something else. For this reason, it’s important to always carry a journal with you. Writing a poem doesn’t take much time, which is why it’s an excellent outlet for those with busy lives.
When trying to get into the zone of writing a poem, try doing what helps you relax. Perhaps you’d like to light a coffee-scented candle, burn incense, listen to a particular type of music, or go for a walk. You might be the type of person who begins your writing day by saying a prayer, meditating, or inviting in your muse. Try a variety of measures to tap into your creative side. One writer friend of mine used to write letters to his father before he sat down to write poetry. Feeling his father’s presence inspired him and invoked feelings that he was then ready to write about.
Set aside a quiet time to be by yourself for twenty minutes. Find a poetry anthology and read the works of several poets. Choose a poet whose voice and sensibility resonate with you. Read a poem by that poet a few times, first to yourself and then out loud. Feel the poem’s rhythm; see its images and ideas. Choose your favorite line from the poem, and write it at the top of your journal page to use as inspiration for your own original poem.
Put your pen down and reread what you wrote. Have you discovered new emotions or feelings you never realized you had before? Reflect upon this.
Begin a poem with “I do not know . . .”
Diana Raab, PhD is a memoirist, poet, essayist, blogger, and speaker. She presents workshops in writing for healing and transformation. She has a PhD in Psychology with a concentration in Transpersonal Psychology with a research focus on the healing and transformative powers of memoir writing. Her educational background also includes health administration, nursing and creative writing.
Find out more about her on her website http://dianaraab.com
Follow her on Twitter @dianaraab
About Writing for Bliss: A Seven-Step Plan for Telling Your Story and Transforming Your Life
Writing for Bliss is most fundamentally about reflection, truth, and freedom. With techniques and prompts for both the seasoned and novice writer, it will lead you to tap into your creativity through storytelling and poetry, examine how life-changing experiences can inspire writing, pursue self-examination and self-discovery through the written word, and, understand how published writers have been transformed by writing.
Poet and memoirist Raab (Lust) credits her lifelong love of writing and its therapeutic effects with inspiring her to write this thoughtful and detailed primer that targets pretty much anyone interested in writing a memoir. Most compelling here is Raab’s willingness to share her intimate stories (e.g., the loss of a relative, ongoing struggles with cancer, a difficult relationship with her mother). Her revelations are encouraging to writers who feel they need “permission to take… a voyage of self-discovery.” The book’s seven-step plan includes plenty of guidance, including on learning to “read like a writer,” and on addressing readers as if “seated across the table .” Raab covers big topics such as the “art and power of storytelling” and small details such as choosing pens and notebooks that you enjoy using. She also helps readers with the important step of “finding your form.”
Category: On Writing