It’s Not Over Yet: 9 Free Ways to Work Your Poetry Mojo

So April is not the cruelest month after all. But poetry month is almost halfway over. Have you hugged a poet today? If you haven’t exercised (or exorcized) your poetry mojo yet, jump in, the water is warm. Here’s four free ways to celebrate. And prose writers, as Robert Frost said, ‘You come too.’

I’ll post five more tips soon.

1. Read. Even if only a little every day. Someone always tells us this in a class and still we fail to follow the advice. My homepage (at the office, no less) is Poetry Daily, which presents a new poem every day—by a poet who is not dead yet, not necessarily a white guy, and writing in many styles. There it is, the poem, and you can read it, like it, not like it and move on. You will find writers you haven’t heard of, translations you did not know, surprising, inspiring, or just plain interesting stuff, given to you every day, if only you will look up. Of course, they’ve got an app for that.

2. Write. Ah, more one word advice. Keep a journal, try 750 words, or Julia Cameron’s morning pages. You need to know what’s on your mind and besides, writers write.

3. Type out poems. I suppose this is a weird one, but something I learned from Patricia Smith, who thought if she liked a poem enough she ought to at least give it the time to transcribe it. Copying slows you down, you will absorb knowledge of line and diction and punctuation from typing poems. Plus it feels good to be Sylvia Plath, or Theodore Roethke or Zbigniew Herbert, at their perfect best for a few minutes at least. On my computer I have an index called OPP –other people’s poems, which has 400 poems listed, about 80% of which were made by my own hand. Prose writers: what about great openings of stories or novels; American Book Review chose 100 favorites here. Or try writing snatches of dialog (see some at Overheard in Denver) or description. You can learn a lot about style by attending to other writers’ words. For inspiration, read Dawn Potter’s Tracing Paradise: Two Years in Harmony with John Milton. The book is a memoir of Potter’s years of writing out Paradise Lost —by hand.

4. Listen. Go to readings (listed, of course, on the Colorado Poetry Calendar). It’s fun to hear other people read their works. Of course there is also audio on the web. Try From the Fishhouse, Poetry Foundation and The Academy of American Poets to hear writers living and dead, give voice to their words.

There's a listening chance coming up this Friday with a new Lighthouse  Writer's Buzz: Art Sparks Art—Inspiration That Cuts Across Disciplines,  6:15 PM, reading at 7:00 at Walker Fine Art, 300 West 11th Avenue, Denver.

My poem that night will have to do with numbers, and I'll be back soon with five more mojo ways.