Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Journal Images Become Poems

One purpose your journal might serve is as depository for collections of different metaphorical images that can eventually be used in your poems. As an "investigative poet" I often write on themes that need some research. When planning a poem on garlic, for example, I combed books, magazine articles and the web for information on the background and uses of garlic, both in cooking as as one of the oldest medicines in folklore. If I found a certain informational or historical tidbit interesting, I "turned it on its head" and made a metaphorical image out of it. For example, I compared the off-white waxy nature of garlic cloves to eagle's talons.

My plan was to look at garlic every which way and create a lyrical ode in honor of one of my favorite seasonings. Before starting my venture, I was deeply inspired by Pablo Neruda's odes, and "Ode to Tomatoes" in particular, which I feature in my workshops on lyrical poetry writing.

After overwriting and gathering more images than I would ever use in one poem, I let the images speak to me and come to my assistance as I wrote my text. In the course of writing, I used only about one third of the journal images but rewrote them as I went along so they would flow naturally into the piece. And these images gave rise to new images on the fly. Sometimes only one image might stand out from your journal laundry list, but it might act as rudder for the complete poetic direction of your piece. ◦
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David Green said...
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