As a young person, I fell asleep with the dictionary, scribbling down words and meanings that tolled within my imagination. Fervent. Radiant. Contagious. Eclectic. Hoosgow.
Years (and a growing collection of dictionaries) later, I’m still ripping out images or words for the font and pasting them in a journal; handwriting a quote or line of a poem along the inside of my arm; baking cookies with ink-stained fingers; forgotten pens stuck behind my ears.
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Epiphany, noun: a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homey, or commonplace occurrence or experience.
Being a poet is not a calling of light. Illumination, yes. There is a darkness surrounding poetry, an immutable force that breathes alongside furious fingers, entwining with the writer’s will until the difference between poet and epiphany is indistinguishable.
It can occur at any given moment. During a walk to the mailbox, a copper sycamore leaf floating to the ground beside you, or while putting away clean dishes, the rhythm of an everyday activity transforming a chore into a form of relaxation and familiarity. It can happen, too, at the sound or sight of a word: pursue, unfettered, wildflower, abide, be.
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Cave, verb: to hollow out.
A stroke of inspiration: throat gasps, eyes widen, fingers burn and itch, heart pounds. There is a demanding need for the sound of pen scratching paper, the smell of the ink, lips mumbling the sounds and forms emanating from imagination.
There is a carving being done in the poet’s night. A carving of words, meanings, images. The underground is wide, expansive. This is the secret place of a writer’s work, occurring far beneath the surface. The frenzy of structure and sound is an invisible force, manifesting in the mind and pen, a cohesion that must be felt in order to be known.
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Pigment, verb: to color; add pigment to.
Wiping down the simulated granite countertops of my apartment, one hand scoops crumbs into the open, empty hand. My eyes glaze over the black and white speckled texture, allowing my fingers to glide over the smooth surface, feeling the nicks and dents left by the knives of so many previous tenants. The motions of my body blend with the object in possession, creating a substance neither dry nor liquid, but still something I can dip into and out of, loaded with ability.
Countertops become a map. Rags become ghosts. The grey plane of living awaits a new coat of color – maybe a scarlet red, or Prussian blue, or a strong dose of burnt umber. Stories build themselves from these smoke-scrawls of the imagination. The only thing to do is to take them and lay them on paper.
Take your own journey into poetry:
Read a poem a day, become a better poet. In November, we’re exploring the theme Cats.