Here’s what I know about how to write poetry from the innumerable little moments, observations, successes, failures, and general messy thing we call life.
Inspiration is all around us, but it does ask something of us to begin to notice these things and it takes some practice to use them to help us write and find new poems.
How to find inspiration and how to write poetry from it
I drive about an hour and some change one way (2 hours and even more change give or take total) to get to a seasonal job I’m currently working. That’s frustrating when I stop to consider how much I could be writing in that same amount of time. And I’ve been working on ways to accomplish that, but that’s going to be a different story for a different day.
If you’re like me and you do the morning drive, it can feel a bit boring, can’t it? It can feel monotonous. And it certainly can feel like a drain on your creative work. But bear with me.
I see the same basic sites every morning, and every evening. The same bends in the same roads, the same gnarled old trees and the same stretched out fields, the same kiss of sunlight on the amber glow of dew and frost. The same stop signs, stop lights, bumper to bumper mess when I enter the city. How could I ever possibly hope to find inspiration from all of this mess?
Because beauty is often hidden just beneath the surface, just beyond the expected, and always just a little bit out of reach because it wants to see if we will reach out to touch it, to feel it, to embrace it.
Here’s where the magic happens: learning to look closer. To see more. To see the same thing, but deeper, differently each time it’s seen. To feel your feelings, even if they’re the same ones, in new and deeper and more contemplative ways. To really pick at the things in your life and get under the surface, sometimes not far, and sometimes you have to go way down.
One night I was driving back from work and noticed the crescent shape of the moon. Me being me, I started playing around with a loose poem that was given to the empty car but obviously not written down in the moment (again, work in progress). But, in the process of playing around with what might become a poem (and did), I found a new way for me to describe the crescent moon. I later wrote it into a poem and it was pretty well received on Instagram:
And this is just one of numerous moments that I sort of photographed in my mind’s eye from something I saw, or some way it made me feel, or in some memory that it evoked while riding alone in my car with music or silence for company.
That’s how you find inspiration for your poetry. You sometimes look for it, and sometimes let it look for you.
But always be practicing the art and craft of your work. Practice observation. Learn to see that broken glass look of fresh morning frost and wonder at its possibilities. Take in the way the sun kisses the earth for the first time each morning and wonder at how it makes you feel. Pay attention to how the stars dance in a chaotic quiet rhythm among themselves and how the moon looks longingly toward them wishing to break free for once and join in.
The real lesson, I suppose, is to pay attention, to practice observation and to embrace the play of your imagination and creativity.
Wrapping it all up
I’m going to keep figuring out ways to write while I’m not actually writing. I’m going to keep paying attention to even the most boring parts of my life and I’m going to keep practicing the art and craft of careful observation. The real beautiful moments of life can and oftentimes seem to be buried in the most mundane, waiting for someone to come along and dig a little.
Happy digging friends!