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How to draw from life to write poetry

Last night I had a craving for poetry, so I went to the Poetry Foundation website and randomly began reading poems. As I read poems by Denise Levertov and Greek poets George Seferis and C.P. Cavafy, I thought about my own attempts at writing poetry. I thought about how I came to write my poems and wondered if by looking back on how they came to be, it would help me open the well (or maybe a vein) to create more.

Here’s what I came up with. If you’re interested in writing poetry, maybe these ideas will spark a poem of your own.

Be open to creative insight. Humans have a vast capacity to experience intuitive moments that lead to creative inspiration. Announce to the  universe that you want to invite inspiration into your life.

Find the deeper meaning. One reason people write is to understand. And readers read for the same reason. It’s the emotional undertone of life that creates meaning in literature. Look beneath the surface of events to discover the meaning. These universal themes often spark creative ideas for me. Watching my aunt’s emotional ups and downs as my uncle suffers from Alzheimer’s inspired me to write about it.

Observe the world closely. It’s been said, God is in the details. In all writing, and especially poetry, imagery and just the right word make all the difference. The sensory details of life are a poet’s raw material. Observe people’s mannerisms, and how they interact with each other. Listen to conversations, including tone. These observations guide nuance and meaning.

Be attuned to big life changes. Times of great change, good and bad, often reveal insight that leads to powerful stories. These changes include geographic moves, dealing with a chronic illness, death, the birth of a baby, and starting or ending a job.

For more ideas to find your muse, read Three ways to feed your muse: hunting down inspiration.

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