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Poetry Inspiration – Ain’t I A Mug

If you look under the ‘poetry’ tag on the WordPress reader, you’ll find more posts than you can shake a stick at. (Or read in a lifetime if I’m honest.) A lot of it is personal poetry, and if you start reading through it, a lot of it uses the same sort of language and the same sort of imagery.

Anyone who has written poetry knows that when you start out it’s very easy to write poems designed to ‘sound poetic’. The subject of your poem can quite often get lost in the writing of it. Finding your voice is the most important, and the most difficult part of being a writer. No one picks up a pen for the first time and magically finds it.

Part of the way I found my own voice was through poetry workshops and lectures. So for those of you who are interested I thought I’d share one of the writing exercises I’ve scoffed at, and then found quite useful, in the past.

  • Find an object immediately to your left. A glass, a book, a mug, an ornament, a pen.
  • Hold it. Think about the texture of it. The shape, the size, the way it fits in your hand.
  • Where did it come from originally?
  • How old is it?
  • Was it a gift or something you bought for yourself?
  • Would throwing it away be easy or difficult? Why?

Write a poem about your object. You’re not personifying the item, your simply telling the reader about it and its connection to you. Zone in on the small, concrete details that make that item real.

Feel free to link your poem in the comments below, but please specify if you’re looking for feedback, and to what level you accept critiquing. Constructive criticism is a great tool for building better poets, but only you know if you’re able to handle someone pulling apart your work and making comments on where they feel it wasn’t as strong as it could be.

Lastly, this is not a new feature for my site. I may throw up a couple more ‘poetry inspiration’ posts with National Poetry Day looming in the near future, but my own writing schedule means that I haven’t really got the time to make this a regular event. For now I hope that some of you this useful and I look forward to seeing what poems come out of it.

Happy writing.

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Carol Forrester is a writer trying to be a better one. She’s currently working on a poetry collection 'It's All In The Blood'. She has a 2:1 BA degree in history from Bath Spa University, enjoys judo at least twice a week, and tries to attend poetry events around the Midlands when she can. Her flash fiction story ‘Glorious Silence’ was named as River Ram Press’ short story of the month for August 2014 and her short story ‘A Visit From The Fortune Teller’ has been showcased on the literary site Ink Pantry. Her poems ‘Sunsets’ and ‘Clear Out‘ were featured on Eyes Plus Words, and two of her poems were included in the DVerse Poets Pub Publication ‘Chiaroscuro’ which is available for purchase on amazon. More recently her poem ‘Until The Light Gets In‘ was accepted and published at The Drabble and her poem ‘Newborn’ was published by Ink Sweat & Tears. She has been lucky enough to write guest posts for sites such as Inky Tavern and Song of The Forlorn and has hosted a number of guest bloggers on her site Writing and Works.

13 Comments

  1. Nice post, nice prompt. I understand your busy-ness too! I would love some constructive criticism on my work. I find most people only make really positive comments, and that makes it hard to learn. I guess what I’m saying is, feel free to be robust on my dVerse posts!

    • Thank you Sarah. I find the line a little tricky with the dverse responses sometimes as I like to be honest but I don’t want to knock anyone’s confidence. It’s good to know who’s open to ‘robust feedback’.

  2. A very interesting post, I may try this exercise .
    I never seem to have enough time to write consistently it can be quite sporadic , I would be interested to know how you go about setting yourself a writing schedule .

    • Sporadic is fine. My own writing schedule tends to be very flexible. I always keep a notepad or a piece of paper nearby so that I can jot bits and bobs down. At the moment with lockdown I’ve been making notes throughout the day if ideas spring up (still working full-time) and then I try to add 100-200 words to my novel each evening, and spend half an hour playing with poems. The husband and I are currently binge watching Bones so I use that time to sketch as well. The plan is to have sketches for each poem in the pamphlet I’m currently working on. Weekends are a bit up in the air generally, but I’m trying to sit down and work on words whenever I’ve got fragments of time.

  3. That made me think. this may be the quickest poem I’ve ever written, so I’m happy for you to pull it apart. (My writing group is too easily pleased.) It turned out longer than intended. Had I more time, I might have shortened it.

    A blue tit perches on a log
    It’s meant to be an outdoor clock
    Bought for my garden in a sale
    But when I took it from the box
    It threw itself upon the floor
    And in four pieces there it lay
    Three segments, as if from a pie
    It’s heart still ticking time away

    Oh well, it wasn’t great expense.
    I’ll have to throw it in the bin.
    And yet… the breaks were clean, unchipped.
    Abandoning it seemed a sin.

    Instead, out came the superglue
    To salvage such a pretty thing.
    Soon, sticking fingers to the tube
    And propping up and balancing,
    The stonecraft disc began to hold.
    Prop that side up; this join needs lift.
    The front looks good, though from the back
    The plastic movement’s all skew-whiff.

    Alhough it won’t survive a storm,
    Inside the house it keeps good time.
    The blue tit perches, safe and warm.
    Perhaps that’s what he had in mind.

    • You’ve given me permission to pull this apart, so I’m going to take you at your word.
      I’m intrigued by the outdoor clock. The last line of the first stanza makes me think that it’s a mechanised clock, but later on I started to wonder if you mean a sundial.
      I’d be careful when mixing metaphors. The line ‘three segments, as if from a pie’ feels a little out of place. I think mostly because you don’t follow the metaphor through or come back to it later on.
      Time is a little out of joint as well. In the first stanza you seem to be looking out at the clock with the bird on it, then in the next stanza the reader seems to be stood over the clock after it has just fallen.
      I like the inclusion of the blue tit, it’s a nice grounding image right at the start of the poem, however it does make the shift in tone after the fist line a little startling. You’ve very blunt with ‘a blue tit perches on a log’, and then much more elusive with your imagery later on.
      I’d say there are good bones in this poem. May I ask if you writing this with a certain rhyme scheme, or line count per stanza in mind?

      • Thanks for that. As I said, it was a quickie, and the rhyme scheme kind of made itself up as it went along. I’m not a poet (more Pam Ayres than Plath or Poe) but I contribute to a “12 poems in 12 months” writing challenge to try and understand it better. I write my poem as soon as we have the prompt so I have time to go back and improve things before posting. Your feedback has given me aspects to consider in all my effortw when I’m trying to pull it all together. I’ll copy it onto my doc and have another look at it.
        Thanks for your help. As a hobby writer on a pension, all free professional input is valued. 🙂

        • I’d use the word professional very loosely. Writing poetry is a learning experience for everyone and we all continue to grow and improve in our poetry as time goes by.

          • I use the word in its qualitative sense. And I suspect you have been kind and pulled punches (I generally describe my output as verse rather than poetry) but I appreciate your feedback nonetheless.
            One step at a time…

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