Poem Spark Oct. 16-23 – the Poet’s Poem

Greetings and Salutations!

Every day, once my house has sighed quietly in the wake of two kids gone to school and the tea in my cup begins to paint the air with ephemeral threads of steam, my thoughts turn to poetry. How can I describe this silence? What does it mean to spend time reading poems? What is the Spotlight Poem today on Poets.org?

Inevitably, I put these thoughts away in order to go about my day, but I always hope I can find a few minutes to jot down a phrase or two that might grow into a poem with enough care and attention. This is important to me, but I’m not sure why. What is it that makes me want to collect words? Why do poets love to play with language? The answers are as many and varied as there are poems in the world.

Here is an essay by Amy Lowell that speaks about The Poet’s Trade. In this short piece, she outlines her belief that a poem must be crafted, “As a matter of fact, the poet must learn his trade in the same manner, and with the same painstaking care, as the cabinet-maker.” Another poem written by Heather McHugh, begins as a narrative about poets traveling and follows them as they speculate about poetry and its root meaning: What He Thought. It is in the end of the poem where a greater meaning becomes surprisingly apparent to the reader. Poetry seems to spring not out of craft, but from a spontaneous gift on the part of the writer.

Your task this week is to write a poem about writing a poem, or about what it means to be a poet, or about how it feels to be inspired. Write a poet’s poem. Write a poem that only another writer will truly understand, but try to do it in a way that invites the non-writer into the poet’s world.

Here are some examples of what I’m talking about:

Thomas Lux Render, Render

Harryette Mullen All She Wrote

Charles Bukowski so you want to be a writer?

Richard Wilbur The Writer

Have fun. Be creative. Good luck! I leave you with this quote from this page on the Poets.org website, various quotes from On Poetry and Craft: Selected Prose of Theodore Roethke.

Theodore Roethke wrote:
“You must believe: a poem is a holy thing — a good poem, that is.”