Creative Ways to Start a Poem: A Solo Quest for Inspiration
Crossing the Stunning Barrier to Imagination
A South African Poem(Author Unknown)
Love Song of a Girl
The far-off mountains hide you from me,
While the nearer ones overhang me.
Would that I had a heavy sledge
To crush the mountains near me.
Would that I had wings like a bird
To fly over those farther away.
[Translated by A.C. Jordan]
Creating poems can be the most beautiful and painful, literary form of art to wield. It is from your soul you can string words along and tie them together so magnificently and you read it, taste it on your lips for yourself and declare it good. You repeat catchy lines to yourself and you record it in a notebook, a laptop, a tablet or a recorder.
My problem follows close on my heels when it comes time to birth a poem. I have personal muses, emotions, and tons of family history to twist with a wicked grin and slap it on the screen. But even when that is used up, where can I go? I have traveled the yards of my mind and figure that I must have quite the imagination but if you’re like me, there are some doors shut in your mind. There are special locks designed only for when you have acquired the keys to unlock them. On my journey I have invested time and mental energies to unlock these doors.
In this hub, I will share with you some good ways to begin that creative poem you have burning inside your heart.
Here's a Relevant Hub on Writing Poetry to Music
- Writing Poetry to Music: Two Exercises
This article presents two poetry exercises, adapted from the work of Ursula K. Le Guin and Brian Kiteley, designed to help you improve poetic sound and rhythm.
Wake Up to a Song
If you’re a fan of music like I am, then listening to lyrics and the melody can put you in a trance sometimes. You feel where the artist is coming from. You have been there. The words remind you of…you. Then the melody itself lends to a rhythm you can meringue to or shake your rump, twist and bend and all the while you sit with those earphones on. Never moving.
Ah, but you are moving-by way of music.
When I hear a song I enjoy, it becomes a poem to me. I don’t copy the lyrics. Don’t have to. It is the “expression” found in the words: the situation, the person, the crime of passion. The beat simply transports me there. And now I do have a poem to write. If at first I was not in love, after hearing a song- I am in love and can write about it.
Read a Poem
Similar to being inspired by music, I catch poetry in the palm of my mind and see it for what it is. An expression of something to someone or about anything. A seasoned poet’s words can sometimes say it a lot better than I can and they use poetry tools only those with experience can achieve like a magician and their practiced wand.
“How can I ever be inspired to write something that good?” You say.
What I have done was take the subject and that twisted the key. The metrics, syllabics, the metaphors, the repetitions and enjambed lines can all be re-cooked, reheated and served as my dish. Again, the goal is not to copy. It is to be inspired. There is a difference.
Master the Poetic Tools
Sometimes, if I am in a really good mood. I kill that mood with study of poetic terms. It is a kind of killjoy when you think about it. Why study the tools of poetry? How can that inspire anyone?
Knowing what weapons you have in your arsenal(we’re talking about literature here), allows you to get a bit more creative than before. If you are concerned with unlocking your potential, which is held hostage - it would be wise to understand these tools.
These tools include terms like metaphor, simile, oxymoron, irony, tone, voice, subject, alliteration, slant rhyme and on and on.
I hated learning these terms in school, but you know what? Once I sat down and spent more time learning about meter and syllabics and the difference between assonance and alliteration- I could do so much more with my poetry. I can refresh old poems and invent new poems.
Another door unlocks.
Mastering Poetic Forms
Have you bought the Writer’s Market Guide to Poetry? If not, there is a wealth of information in there on the major poetic forms. It is mind blowing.
Forms are different from tools but they are all part of the technique. Forms are your types of poetry: Haiku, Prose, Free Verse, Blank Verse, Ghazal, Pantoum, etc.
I would love to learn about all forms so I may choose which forms to study. In my quest to find inspiration though, I have come to love the gogyohka and the haiku because a person can say much with little and I am trying my hardest to do that.
Join Poetry Groups Online
Join Poetry Groups Online.
About two years ago, or almost two years I was a part of the Gogyohka Junction. This group met online to learn about gogyohka(5 line, unrhymed poem) and create it to share with others via the Ning platform. The gogyohka form was created by Enta Kusakabe and became a fun outlet for me.
Whenever I was joyous, sad, or reflective, I signed on to my account and shared a five line poem with others. The amazing thing was many would respond using the five line format; kind of like the Japanese form of Renga in ancient days.
When the site closed down I was most unhappy, but the poetry I placed on there inspired me to write daily.
Another door clicks open.
Mating Experience with a Dream or Vision
Earlier, I mentioned that the terrains of my imagination are plush and wonderful places for fantasy; and that I still had to look for inspiration.
Well, never despair because the Creator has placed a good dose of dreams and visions in you that are stored in the core of your being. No amount of research or searching around can replace that.
You can mingle the truth with fantasy though.
Some time ago I wrote a Something(essay, flash fiction, prose, experimental?) and married it to dreams and reality. It was fun to write from the top of my head but when I reread the post I was startled by the truth hidden in there. Like a little Where’s Waldo picture book.
Hopefully, by now you have realized as I have that we have been blessed with much creativity. Sometimes it takes a little work to unlock those stubborn doors so that a great poem may come out and the journey for me has been a challenge yet joyous at the same time.
Do you have a favorite form or technique for poetry? I'd love for you to share it here and we can encourage one another on the journey to poeming.