Find the Poet Within
You don’t have to be a writer to create poetry. Anna will guide you step by step as you discover the poem waiting inside you and get it down on paper. Come prepared with paper and pencil or laptop – whatever writing tools work best for you.
Anna teaches several webinars on writing From Your Body for Focusing Initiatives International. She has published six novels and one work of nonfiction.
Anna’s Text for Writing Poetry:
WRITING FROM YOUR BODY: POETRY
- Take a few moments to bring your attention inside. Just sit with whatever you find there with an openness to anything there that might be ready to become a poem. Perhaps you think you already know what you want to write about, but take some time to check and see if that is what is there for you right now. There might be something else, or something more. Some moment that caught your attention this week – a surprising moment, a comment someone made that had special meaning for you, a thought that brought strong emotion. Something in you that wants to become a poem right now.
- Just sit with this for a few minutes without words, just experiencing how you are carrying this poem-in-process in your body.
- Now look for a few words that “label” or somehow point to your experiencing of your subject and write those words down. Check them against your body-feeling of the poem and see if they fit. Write down any other words that come.
- Now sit with the feeling again and ask what is the essence of your subject. What is its meaning, its importance to you? Write down what comes. It may be just a word or two, or a phrase, or more.
- Ask yourself what are its characteristics. What is it like? Write down whatever comes.
- Ask yourself if there are instances of this felt meaning in your life – an experiencing of it, or a person who embodies it, or a specific time or place. Write these down. Be as specific and concrete as possible.
- Look for characteristics of each instance (especially draw on the senses – taste, feel, smell, sounds, shapes and colors) and write them down.
- Sit with the relationship between your examples and the subject of your poem. If anything comes, write that down.
- You can do this as often as you like – look for instances, write down their characteristics. Each time check back in your body with that initial “wannabe a poem” and see if it is satisfied with the instances, the characteristics. If all this feels right.
- Explore how the different instances relate to one another. How are they alike, how different? What connects them? Be alert to anything that seems paradoxical or “funny” and sit with that for a while. This is often a good way to begin a poem or to mark a shift within a poem. (One of my favorite poets – Kenneth Patchen – once started a poem with “I don’t want to alarm you, but they’re going to kill us all.)
- You will now have a number of words, phrases, descriptions, etc. written down. Take some time to assemble them into a poem. Try different ways of organizing the ideas and instances and felt meanings, always pausing to check with your body to see what feels right.
- Once you have your basic order down, play with the words. Say them aloud to yourself to see how they sound. Sit with the words and phrases quietly to see how they resonate with the felt meaning of your poem. Fine tune them if necessary.
- Notice how the poem looks on the page and check that against your felt sense of the poem. Adjust the lines to make them longer or shorter if it feels right to do so.
- Take some time to share poems.