Averil’s project to blog almost every day turns out to be inspiring. Today she asked where we get the inklings that lead to our work. It’s a truth universally acknowledged that you can’t write poetry if you don’t read it. You forget how to make your language intense the way you need to in poems, or you forget to listen for sound.
My friend B from grad school always brought a pad and pencil with him to poetry readings so he could scrawl ideas down as he listened. I do the same. I went to a poetry reading on Saturday, and forget to get out a piece of paper. Because I have a hard time paying attention and because poems are short, I listen very hard at readings. Otherwise I find out that I’ve spent an entire poem looking at my neighbor’s shoes wondering how she could walk on three-inch heels. Anyway.
This intense listening helps me stay in the world of the poem. It’s hard to understand a poem if you hear it read aloud once, especially if it is complicated. So you go along for the ride, and hope you get things as you go. Following one reader’s description of cherry branches gave me about three ideas for poems. I didn’t remember them later, but the act of listening so hard made me relate to each line.
It’s hard to describe this without the poem in front of me. But I hear the poet describe bringing flowering branches inside in order to provide the beauty that he could not find in himself. And that was a rung bell inside me. I know that feeling. I could apply those words to other similar feelings I had. This could be a poem!
But so often, even if I do write my ideas down, I can’t reproduce the ideas on the page. I like to think that these thoughts are not lost. Seeing poetically reminds me to see poetically, and that has to help me when I go back to the page. Right. Right??
What do you listen hard to?