When I told one of the poets I was meeting with at Antioch Writers Workshop that I aimed to write a poem every day, he shook his head. “I don’t know if that’s a good idea,” he said. “Poets need time to think about things.”
I wanted to say this to him, but I’ll say it to you instead.
One of the places where I might just write a poem today--the tiny deck
by my office trailer. Image © Lori Gravley
First, I had a long nearly eighteen years where I wrote, at most, five poems a year. I had plenty of time to think about things.
Even before that, I had years where at most I wrote fifty or sixty poems. I hoarded poetry. I was afraid I wouldn’t have anything to say. I didn’t feel inspired. I was afraid what I wrote wouldn’t be any good so I didn’t write. I thought poetry was a gift, and I didn’t want to be greedy.
Pardon my language, but fluff that. Poetry is what I live in. Lines show up all the time, and I ignore them. Images burn in my eyes, and I turn from them. Poetry is everywhere. I think it’s the way we (I) experience the world, but we (I) work hard to shut it down and act normal.
But fluff that. No, I don’t write a poem every day now. Some days, I’m too inattentive. Some days I fill with all sorts of useful things like doctor’s appointments and spin class. Some days, I’m too weary from the world to raise my head from my arms. But most days, I try to write a poem and some other words as well.
I have years that I let slip by without words. I can’t get them back, but I can capture the ones that are here now, and sometimes, when there is nothing in the here now that shows up to inspire, the past waves its puny hand and says, “Hey, here I am. You missed me then, do you see me now.” And I do.
If I sit to write and there is no inspiration, well, I have a computer file labeled inspiration and a list of links with the same name. The world is wondrous and strange (and so is my life) so I can usually call something up.
Do I write a good poem every day? Nope. But on good days, I write a poem and the day is better for it. And some days, those poems sing, sometimes the songs are silly, sometimes they are dark. Sometimes they sing in someone else’s voice. Sometimes they sing wonder, sometimes despair. But every day is better with a little music in it. And the future is for judging how good the music is. I appreciate having a voice in the now. Croaking or crooning, I feel better having sung.
So, no, the poet I spoke with might not think it’s a good idea for him to write a poem every day. Indeed, it may not be a good idea for you to write a poem every day. But for me, it’s a practice that brings magic to my life, even on the days when the poem doesn’t get written. So, for now, I’ll write every day that I can.