I Think, Therefore I Write

Whether we think in words, images or concepts, does this affect the type of poetry we write? 

 

What’s it like for you when you think? What about when you read? Do you hear words in your head? See images? Both? Or do you experience something else?

 

I love discussing this, particularly with those who are only just realising that it’s not the same for everyone. Frankly it freaks people out. Someone who has a noisy inner monologue, for instance, is often quite shocked when they realise that another person just thinks in wordless concepts. Or that a third person practically watches a movie in their head when they read. 

 

But what about how we experience, and indeed write, poetry? Recently it struck me that perhaps the type of poetry we create may be very influenced by our thinking style. 

 

For example, I’m a very word-based thinker and reader.  I don’t really picture anything at all when I think – it’s all a big chitchat in my head, and all in my own voice. Reading is almost the same, although there is sometimes a little mental “picturing”.  So a poem for me is a platter of sounds, throwing up ideas, connections and the odd fleeting, fuzzy image. 

 

And what type of poetry do I write? Well, I love soundplay and very passionate about sounds that meld and clash. They are a very important part of the poem for me. Not all my poems rhyme, but rhyme is a great love of mine. I enjoy half-rhymes and not-even-that-close rhymes, I love alliteration and I cannot get enough assonance and dissonance. Likewise, I’m slightly obsessed with rhythm, and even if a poem doesn’t have a classic rhythmical structure, I usually need the rhythm to have some kind of shape in order for me to find writing the poem satisfying.

 

Which is all a long winded way of musing: do I write like that because for me the experience of a poem, the way I process the ideas, is almost nothing but words? That, for me, hearing an inner rhyme is as satisfying as looking at a sunset? That I cannot disconnect the meaning of a poem from the sounds that frame it? And, a big question – if I didn’t think like that, would I find wordplay to be just an irritating? A noisy and unnecessary distraction? 

 

Or maybe not. Maybe this is just all nonsense. But if it is, it’s nonsense that sounds awfully good to me. 

 

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It’s National Poetry Writing Month – Need Some Prompts?

National Poetry Writing Month is approaching fast! Here’s a little self-prompting technique that might just help you to write (or at least start) thirty poems in April.

There are three reasons why writing poetry in April is a good idea.

1 – It’s spring!

2 – It’s always a good idea to write poetry

3 – It’s National Poetry Writing Month

National Poetry Writing Month – or #NaPoWriMo* will see thousands of poets challenging themselves to write a poem a day.  For me, the main issue with this is having thirty ideas, when normally, I have a good idea for a poem once every week or two. Thirty in a row is going to be TRICKY!

There will be daily poem prompts up at www.napowrimo.net to help – but I don’t know about you, I’m a bit contrary and find the idea of a thousand other people writing on the same theme off-putting.

So I thought I’d share my most failsafe self-prompting technique, which I’m planning to use when stuck. It’s really simple, and it really has worked for me in the past!

1.  Choose a novel with a similar feel to poems you like to write

If you like fun poems, choose a fun novel. Romantic poems… you get the drift. I like writing surreal poems, so I chose “The Lefthanded Booksellers of London” by Garth Nix.

2. Randomly extract an adjective, then randomly extract a noun

Stick your finger somewhere random in the book, then read on until you find the FIRST adjective. Repeat, but with a noun. Write them down. My first effort brought me “minor path”.

3. Write a couple of lines inspired by that little phrase. 

It can be as directly or indirectly about it as you like. Don’t think about it too hard. Just give yourself a minute or two.

4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 four more times

That’s it! Ta-da! You now have a little pot of five poem starters, rather like this:

You don’t have to use them all, and you can repeat the exercise with all kinds of different books through the month – maybe include some non-fiction books as well.

I’ve already got most of a poem from my “minor path” prompt. Actually the poem ended up completely going away from the idea of paths at all but… it got me started.

Good luck and happy writing!

 

* This always reminds me of that joke about what Edward Woodward would be called if the letter D hadn’t been invented. #EWarWooWar

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Upwards


Maybe it’s the dim midwinter light, but January seems to be dedicated to  taking a rather harsh view of ourselves. In reality, most of us are already doing our best with a lot, and need to be taking on not more, but less.

Well, at least until cloning machines are up and running.

Upwards

I am scaling a mossy wall
whilst plate-spinning
and playing the bagpipes.

[On distant asphalt, a
side-plate smashes.]

Before I know it, it’s January 1st.
“I will now also paint
the wall as I climb!” I proclaim.

[My bagpipes flail
like a spent lung.]

The wall giggles.
“You should have just vowed
to grow more hands,” it says.

[I kick the wall.
Descent is rapid.
Cancel the paintbrushes.]

 

 

 

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Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash

 

 

Juggernaut Growl

This is, perhaps, a slightly unsettling one, but as it’s World Mental Health Day today, I wanted to post something a little more challenging.

Juggernaut Growl

Adrift on this rattling sucking-dry river
I’m twisting like flotsam, my energy peaking
and troughing, my will being tested
and tested…

I’m smashing
I’m shattering
Over and over.

The eddies are frenzied with power, the current
seems drunk on futility, stripping and tearing
And on rasps the river
so careless, so cold…
As my essence is shredded and fed
to its time-silted soul.

Yet somewhere beyond the great roar of this monstrous
onslaught, I know you are talking to me,
And your voice, that smooth sanctuary,
Beckons me home with a pillow-soft promise of healing.

But you are more alien now
than the juggernaut growl
of this river, for I am
the grist to the grind of its fury, its
face-slapping, limb-snapping, life-sapping
venom, its shores as beyond me as meaning
or reason or pleasure or feeling…

 

© Nina Parmenter 2018

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Photo by Ian Espinosa on Unsplash

Mariner Girl

 

Mariner Girl

Take me away, said the mariner girl,
From the islands of ought-to which circle the sea,
Let me be lady and lord of my world,
And let all obligation sink gladly from me.

The valleys are flowing with nonsense and noise,
As the hills raise their heads to command and cajole,
The air is a millstone which crushes my joys,
I will sail from the land, or else forfeit my soul.

Send me a star, said the mariner girl,
To blaze through my darkness and show me a path
Through the waves, to a place where my mind can unfurl –
Just me, and the sea, and my brave little craft.

The currents are flowing with maybe and might,
And the swells are a surge of why-not and just-be,
The salty-skinned air gives a kiss of delight,
As I sail from the land and join hands with the sea.

Farewell to you, restless mariner girl,
For I’ve neither a boat, nor the courage to sail,
As the land keeps me bound, so the sea claims its pearl,
But your spirit shines on in this dream-spinner’s tale.

 

© Nina Parmenter 2018

Photo by Ahmed zayan on Unsplash

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