Journey into Poetry: Reno K. Lawrence


It was a cold, foggy morning in Covina, California. 1967. My mother had just suited me up in an elaborate hobo costume she made for Hobo Day at school. She rushed me out the door with my Diver Dan lunch box. I continued across the quiet cul-de-sac, as I did every morning, to pick up Lesley Anne; we would hold hands as I walked her to Kindergarten, then I’d continue on to my first-grade class. My mother endorsed magic moments like that. She was an artist and a colorful individual who nurtured my imagination and creativity.

Amidst the sporadic magic moments, my parents fought nightly—loud, often disturbingly loud, which escalated into mom breaking down crying. Dad wasn’t much of a right-brained, feelings guy. He was a survivor, a tough guy, an ultra-responsible one. That is all my dad knew how to teach: responsibility and survival. It was burdensome and disturbing.

The rare moments I was able to engage my imagination and creativity, time seemed to suspend. Though my parents argued ritually, I found escape and joy through the creative bond I had with my mother and the artistic imagination she was able to foster in me.

Fast forward: I am sitting in my cubicle, entering data, crunching numbers, checking details and instruction narratives. It’s the boring part of what I do—the repetitive, left-brained part, that doesn’t come natural for me. This is where I need to tell myself, “Focus Reno, don’t take this part for granted.” I would rather be exercising creativity in order to make a job more profitable.

My boss came up to me a couple weeks back, telling me, “Reno, the idea you proposed in the morning meeting was awesome. That is the third job in two days you found ways to make profitable. What has gotten into you lately? You’re on fire.”

I told her, “I found this Facebook site called Every Day Poems. I subscribe to their daily delivery and read a poem in the morning. Then I look at a prompt or instruction. For the past few weeks, I’ve been writing poetry, brainstorming lines. I imagine the right-brained play is overflowing into my creative process on the job.”

“Whatever you’re doing,” she said, “don’t stop. It’s really working.”

My mother encouraged imagination, supported romantic thinking, and nurtured me to flourish in creative development. I guess it was time to find her ways again, here in the midst of my often left-brained life. I didn’t expect to discover these ways through the simple act of just having fun with Every Day Poems. But here I am at an e-venue, where I play, imagine, create, dream, get encouraged by others, and write a poem a day. No hobo costume needed.

Photo by Fiddle Oak. Creative Commons, via Flickr. Post by Reno K. Lawrence.


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  1. L. L. Barkat says

    I like how your thoughts on Creativity have taken you back to beginnings. And of course I love this new beginning, which is a kind of recapturing.

    Poetry can be that way. It reminds me a bit of what’s happening with Claire Burge’s Image-ine pieces. (another coming up this week, so you’ll see what I mean; but one could also look back at her ‘Journey into Poetry’ piece to get a taste)

  2. says

    Another benefit that I have been able to account for is sharper memory. This observation came a few weeks after I wrote the essay. It’s all just awesome stuff. The only negative that is come of it is losing sleep do to an obsession to finish a poem or a stanza! lol! I can’t blame that on poetry – It’s a discipline thing. Love can do that…

  3. says

    Megan, I am grateful that you like the testimony. The blog to where I share my poetry aside from EDP is linked to my name. “Reno K. Lawrence”. in this post. I welcome you to come read.

  4. says

    Reno, I’ve lost sleep that way, too. But keeping a pen and paper by the bed helps; as soon as I jot things down, the insomnia goes away. :)

    And yes, if we’re not careful, the creativity can go to wasteful instead of productive ends.

  5. says

    Yes, I suppose poetry and creativity does translate better into our work situations… For me it somehow represents a Balance (with a capital B), to know that although I am working and utilizing my left/right brain (whatever) but knowing that i have a solid base in creative pursuits with my writing, which is happening in a parallel universe…. It somehow makes everything more palatable. And more effective. Great post, Reno. (Great name, too. :)

  6. says

    Monica, so funny, I have notes all over the place. I usually write on sticky notes at work, or dictate to my phone when in my car. The hardest thing for me, is unplugging from a project, especially if I can see the trail ahead — If I leave the trail, the landscape may change the next time I get back.

    Bradly, thanks for that great thought “happening in a parallel ” “Balance” that would seem to be the goal. Awesome you are there.

    The name has a funny story. I was given it at birth. The “K” is for King — to funny. I took a shot at documenting the story as to how I got the name in a short story poem I named “Whats in a name” The poem is on my blog.

    Thanks for reading and commenting – I am grateful!

  7. Tania Runyan says

    Reno, thank you so much for sharing a painful part of your life as a way to demonstrate art’s power to protect, inspire, and transform children. Those creative transformations almost always translate into adulthood in ways we can never shake–thank goodness! Yes, poetry can be “practical!” It opens us to our senses and demands our full attention to emotion in all its subtleties. Wonderful piece!

  8. says

    Hey Reno,
    love, love, love this!
    Our brains really do need to let off creative energy, good for you for following your muse! KUDOS!

  9. says

    Hey Tania, thanks for reading and sharing your comments! “Demanding full attention to emotion in all its subtleties” Wonderfully said. I appreciate your insightful voice.

    I liken the artistic creative process to peeling a fruit while in a state of dreaming. The something keeps changing as you practice lucid control over what it becomes with the removal of each layer. You diligently know, someday, you will peel the last layer and no longer have control over what it becomes, it will be what you looked so hard to find. – If that makes any sense? As Robert Bly said in the last line of his poem “The Black Figure Below the Boat” : “Don’t say you didn’t want it. Just get ready.”

  10. says

    Monica – where ever did that post beneath you last post come from?

    I have been reading Rumors of Water. I truly love the read. I love the right brain friendly approach structured through the many layers of the work. The brief chapters, the connections to nature, the technical and practical writing insights take root due to that brilliant approach to the subject matter. I wish more books were written to cater to right brained learners like me.


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