5 Ways to Spark Poetic Inspiration
5 Fun Ways to Weave Poetry Into Your Day
April may mark National Poetry Month, but our love for self-expression runs year-round. You might view writing poetry as something only for those who are romantically or theatrically inclined, but poetry is accessible to, and within, everyone.
Maybe you have written 100 poems or never written a single one.
Either way, we encourage you to unveil your inner wordsmith this month and onward. So, we compiled a few ways to spark poetic inspiration to help those who need an extra nudge towards finding the right words.
- Incorporate poetry into your daily routine. To be a writer is to be an observer, and observations often come through reading or listening. Budding writers can get a daily word dose by signing up to receive a daily poem in their inbox, listening to a daily poem podcast, or following a social media account. Read one on your lunch break or listen to one during your commute. The musically inclined might choose to listen to a new artist every week and then blend together their favorite new lyrics. While engaging, consider the author’s backstory, ponder the theme, or write down a newly discovered word—all can help you find your inklings.
- Write a poem about someone else. Better yet, try a stranger—think of it as platonic speed dating, poetry-style. If you’re not inclined to write about yourself, writing about someone else takes the self-observatory pressure off. We know writing about a stranger might sound intimidating, so we asked poet Oscar Fuentes—also known as The Biscayne Poet—for some tips. Oscar is known for popping up at events with his typewriter and creating poems on the fly for strangers. They sit with him, they talk, and he writes. Sometimes all he needs is a name, other times, he’ll ask his subject a few questions to get his flow going. His motto is, “the more intimate and personal you are, the more universal your poem will be.”
His tips for writing a poem about a complete stranger:
- Remember: We are not that different, and we are all looking for emotional validation.
- Focus your poem on love—self-love.
- Try to pull words from your own life and apply them.
- Make them feel that it’s all going to be ok, that yes, hearts will break, but they will always heal. So they can break again, so they can heal again.
- Make them feel that they are loved.
- Be funny.
- Think about your own life, your own relationships—we all have difficult days; think of a poem as a flower to give to make someone feel special.
- Create (or sip) a cocktail or coffee drink to homage to your favorite poet or poem. Both the awakening experience from drinking morning coffee and the smooth relief from slowly sipping an evening cocktail—both are poetic. Maya Angelou loved Sherry. Anne Sexton opted for martinis. Voltaire allegedly drank 30 cups of coffee per day (mixed with chocolate, nonetheless). The rhythmic, multi-sensory drink experience just might trigger some poetic thinking. Maybe start with the ingredients—consider how they might blend together or examine their regional origins, seasonality, colors, and textures. Or, while drinking, take in the auditory cues, like the hissing espresso machine or the spoon clinking on the saucer.
Virgin Hotels paid homage to National Poetry Month with a poetry-inspired coffee menu at Funny Library Coffee Shop in Dallas and Nashville. The brews play off each featured author’s well-known poems. For example, the “Shel Silverstein’s Shake” is our nod to “Shaking,” his whimsical poem about someone shaking a cow to make a milkshake. We brought his work to life through a double espresso drink made with brown sugar and vanilla shaken and then topped with the customer’s milk preference.
- Spontaneously create (a.k.a leave the overthinking behind and go stream of consciousness). With that freshly made coffee or cocktail in reach (or perhaps just crisp, sparkling water for our non-drinkers), take pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and get writing. The Biscayne Poet also has a few cues you can use to help catalyze your writing process.
Oscar’s steps and tips for improvising poetry:
- Take a deep breath and fill your lungs with air, and ask yourself if that air in your lungs tastes like freedom. Answer that question and write from there.
- Sigh, or
- Be brutally honest and transparent with yourself.
- Look around you—what colors do you see?
- Close your eyes and listen to what’s around you.
- Ponder how big yet how small we are in this universe.
- Pick a page, any page: Grab a magazine, book, brochure—anything, really—and pick a random page. Scan the page and then write a piece featuring only words from that page (you can borrow a proposition or a pronoun here and there if needed.) Have fun with this exercise by setting a timer or challenging a friend to do the same.
Written by: Liana Lozada