Lately, all of my poetry has depended on prompts and lessons given in class. I think it’s good for a poet or just a writer to get their poetry from a classroom structure, but I also think too much structure can lead to less creativity. I’m guilty of not often taking time out of my personal day to write anything. But when I do find the time, I go to the bookshelf for inspiration. I only own a few poetry books. The one I go to most often is by Nikki Giovanni: “Black Feeling Black Talk Black Judgment.” What I find inspiring in this collection of poems is the speakers that Giovanni brings to light. They are some of the most unapologetic, emotionally vulnerable speakers I’ve ever seen in poetry. It’s something I think Giovanni has mastered in her poetry and I seek to create in my poetry as well.
I’m in Junior Poetry and we’ve learned about sound and meter and different forms of poetry such as ekphrastic and ars poetica. Understanding these elements of poetry causes me to look at it differently when I read and write. I can find different intents through the form on the surface or the sound beneath, underlying the contents of the poem. This inspires my poetry because it is the foundation for all poetry. I’m no Poe or Longfellow, I’m nowhere near to mastering these foundations, but I think it’s incredible the power that lies in the confines of poetry. It is one of the more compact forms of writing, but in that short time, short if you don’t count epic poetry, an entire story is delivered, narrator, conflict, resolution, or lack thereof, and the reader can make a connection, one I think can be even stronger than a full-length fiction piece.
What inspires me to write poetry most of all are experiences. When I’m lost for an idea, I go back in my mind and find a personal moment I can create a new speaker from. This can become overused as there are only so many prominent experiences one can access, but that’s another thing about being a writer. Experiences can be reshaped, seen through a different lens every time to create the freshest recounting. This also applies to experiences that aren’t personal, something I’ve seen on TV, in the news, or something I’ve watched someone else go through. I think these experiences are just as strong as personal ones and can create the most universality.
–Lindsay Yarn, Creative Nonfiction/ Co-Web Editor