Sunday, January 16, 2011

What A Little Poetry Can Do

We spend a lifetime gathering, sharpening, even discarding tools from our kit to lift our writing to a higher level. Poetry is one such tool that I occasionally reach for to immerse in, meditate on, and use to free myself from external obstacles and inner fears that stifle my writing.

Poems take me on a journey where language, rhythm, imagery, and voice come alive. The words stimulate my writing muscles to create, in similar vein, such vivid scenes and to seek and be unafraid of the truth through each character's arc. I'm encouraged to dig deeper to string together words that stir a reader's passion.

Rules permeate a writer's world, especially in genre fiction. Sometimes, those very rules bind the writer's creativity until the "corset" becomes routine. The writing becomes stale, predictable, flat. Therefore, it is not unusual for the writer to lose her passion, procrastinate, or shelve the very thing that used to bring such joy.

I use poems to heal, to stir love, to communicate, to boost the creative juices necessary to be a well-rounded writer. Poetry saved me many times. I had wonderful teachers who nurtured and supported my writing talents. On the flip side, I had a few teachers who doubted that I owned my talent with accusations of plaigerism. In middle school, I had tested two grades above my English class and had skipped a grade, nevertheless, the school placed me in the English class's lowest level for that new grade. In high school, the teacher said my style sounded like a text book (from her desk) and with no proof tried to fail me. Then she met my mother...'nuff said. In college, my technical writing teacher accused with no proof. A university peer evaluation dismissed the teacher's opinion. It was noted that since I was schooled in my early years under the British system, my writing reflected that style.

Maya Angelou's poems said all that I had to say. Her words celebrate who I am and what I have to contribute. One of my favorites is Still I Rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops
Weakened by my soulful cries

Out of the huts of history's shame
I rise
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I rise
I'm like a black ocean, leaping and wide
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that's wonderously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave
I am the dream and the hope of the slave
I rise
I rise
I rise

The benefits of poetry are countless. Read a poem and be liberated.
Happy writing, my fellow writers.


  1. I love that poem. Thanks for reminding me of it. I'm going to go find my Maya Angelou and read a little.

  2. Sherry, this weekend, I watched Maya being interviewed. In her 80s, she can recite Shakespeare's sonnets. Her talent is amazing. A little Maya is good for the soul.

  3. Michelle ~ I love poetry. I don't read it as often as I'd like these days, but I still pick up my favorites when my brain gets stuck. Poetry is a great puzzle tease for unlocking creativity and those lovely word pictures that are so important in our own writing. Nice post.