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john k zimmerman

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My Poetics [#4]
by john k zimmerman   
Rated "G" by the Author.
Last edited: Friday, March 19, 2004
Posted: Friday, December 26, 2003

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What does the Poet do when the Muse sleeps in?


While many poets rely solely upon “inspiration” to write it is possible to “jump start” the muse. Here is a simple exercise:

Take a simple object: A window.

Describe it.

--what does it look like?
a simple physical description
(A leaded window sets a different mood than
one of stained glass, or a picture window.)

--what does it do?
what is its intended function?

--what does it mean?
what does the artifact mean to you, or, to others?
(To you a window might “mean”
light, fresh air, or escape)

--what does it remind you of
(A window might remind you of an opportunity,
presented or missed, or unwanted attention,
or a forbidden relationship)

write down your observations ---

Decide which observation is the most important.

What emotions does this surface in you?

There, in the intersection between your description of the object and the how you feel about it is your poem.

write it

It is possible that this exercise could result in at least one poem for each of the four attributes of the description (physical, functional, meaning, and association). It is also possible that you will draw a blank. If you do, try again. If you continue to draw a blank after three or four attempts call it a day (or night). You need a break.

Now clearly you an only write so many poems about doors, floors and moors but the same patterned thinking can be applied to larger more complex subjects be it an event, a relationship, a principle. Just do the steps carefully – it may actually be easier to work with a more complex subject.

Of course, once you’ve done all this your muse will chirp in with an entirely different poem.
Who said being a poet was boring?

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Reviewed by m j hollingshead 3/15/2005
well done
Reviewed by Gwen Dickerson 2/16/2005
Wow! This is very interesting. I haven't heard or tried this method before! Excellent ideas, that I shall try!
Reviewed by Fr. Kurt Messick 2/6/2004
Reviewed by Mr. Ed 12/27/2003
You've described what happens to me perfectly, John. I start writing one thing, and my moose muse leads me in an entirely different direction. But you're right - it's never boring!
Reviewed by Carmen Ruggero 12/27/2003
This is interesting, John. That's pretty much the way I write. True, some poems, or even fiction just pop! for lack of better words. But I've gotten in the habit of describing what I see. As I drive to and from work, or running errands. Now more than the description of the object, or tree, or whatever, what inspires me is the mood it projects. I may start describing that window, as you pointed out, but what really triggers the muse, is the quality of the light coming through it; the emotional impact it has on me. Sometimes I'm cooking, and the scent of whatever I'm cooking will bring back a memory, and I may not even end up writing about that memory, but about the emotions it triggered. I've burned a few dinners that way.

Thanks for posting this. I was on a down swing because I thought my muse had died, but now I know it's alive and kicking and I'm ready to trot. Now see what you did?

Reviewed by Tinka Boukes 12/26/2003
Thanks for this advice John!!

Can I still go on that mule ride with you???


Love Tinka
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