Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart


poetry, structure, and creative beginner’s heart

image

courtesy Google

Last night, discussing structure and writing with my elder son, I said I couldn’t write w/ too much structure. That writing is — for me — a discovery process. Structure, I told him, can actually kill my ideas.

Later, as  I lay in bed half-asleep, I thought about poetry. And realised that what I said was only true of prose (at least for me).  I write most easily (and possibly best) when I have the structure of a form.  Sonnet, haiku, tanka, lune ~ each draws forth the content to fill the form’s formal structure. They act like scaffolding for  my creative process.

Kind of like using the right tools to crack lobster… :) Sure you can use your hands. But a claw cracker and tiny fork make it soooo much easier.

The more I thought about it, the more I realised: structure is a kind of mindfulness. It’s almost meditative. Certainly it’s contemplative. If I have to fit the inchoate feelings/ images/ thoughts within to a skeletal framework, it’s almost like magic — following the breath to calm. A kind of practice…

courtesy Wikipedia

courtesy Wikipedia

I think creativity often responds beautifully to structure. But what seems like structure to one person may be torture to another (my son’s process sounded antithetical to my own), and our own methods may well not even feel like ‘structure,’ they’re so deeply internalised.

Once, at a workshop, I heard the Pulitzer prize-winning poet Henry Taylor talking about his struggle to stay a ‘working poet’ while he fought brain cancer. Taylor said he did clerihews — a form invented at the turn of the 19th century. They were all he could manage, he said. But they did the trick: helping him keep poetically nimble.

When my days are full of scullery duties, or enrapt with my grandson, and poetry seems (even for me) almost too much, I turn to haiku. Haiku are my practice, the way clerihews were Taylor’s. And it’s because of both forms’ structure that they work as practices. The form allows the mind to work on the content, not wondering about things like line breaks. At least, not so much. :)

national poetry month logoSo today’s poem is a clerihew (even though I’ve been practicing haiku… :) ) The clerihew is for my grandson, who will (I hope!) grow up to love poetry.

Holding Trinidad Gildersleeve,

 I’m inclined to disbelieve

That paradise requires death.

It’s in my arms, and drawing breath.



Previous Posts

with a little help from friends
You know that saying 'it takes a village'? Well, it does. For any endeavour worth remembering, it takes collaboration. Varied viewpoints, multiple hands, and a LOT of coordination. Witness my niece's shower. W

posted 5:00:00pm Jan. 25, 2015 | read full post »

talking to strangers
I know, your mother told you not to. But now you're a grown-up, and I beg you to reconsider. You're sooo missing out! Yesterday I had the loveliest conversation with two strangers -- two of the many I meet daily.

posted 10:30:46pm Jan. 23, 2015 | read full post »

more on time (and acceptance)
I was thinking today about how much I dislike meditating. Not the actual act, but the resistance I have to just doing it. KNOWING that sometime during the day, I should take out the time to sit down and breathe. N

posted 10:04:50pm Jan. 22, 2015 | read full post »

the journey (taking the time)...
All week I've been on a journey. Well, you  might call it 'preparing.' But to me, it's a journey towards Saturday. Begun (thank you, flu) a full week later than it should have started. S

posted 9:29:22pm Jan. 21, 2015 | read full post »

religious extremism, and standing against it
Lately, with the Charlie Hebdo murders, and the massive French protests of extremist Muslims, there's been a great deal of discussion of religious extremism. No single religion has a monopoly: there are many white C

posted 9:43:06pm Jan. 20, 2015 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.