Dreaming on the Stair Climber: Sources of Inspiration
Lately I have encountered the term ‘Psychic Download’ repeatedly. It refers to a message from the universe that arrives intact and often unexpectedly, beautifully worded and resonantly true. Wow! Don’t we wish all poems came like that!
A number of musicians and lyricists including John Lennon have reported ‘receiving a song.’ Poet Ruth Stone famously described working in the fields and “hearing a train coming.” She then would have to run as fast as she could into the house and write furiously as the train (of inspiration) rushed through her to become a poem. Sometimes if she got there late, she said the poem came backwards.
Over my many years of crafting poetry I have had a few poems arrive ‘whole cloth,’ that needed minimal revision and seemed to explain something I had been struggling to understand. But not very many. Sometimes when I first write a poem I am so caught up in the moment that I THINK the poem is perfect. But after I let it sit for a few days I realize that the act of writing might have been exquisite, but the poem needs lots of remodeling.
Lately I have been asking myself and others if there are methods for harvesting near-perfect poems from infinite wisdom and harmony. Here is what I have come up with:
- Dreams that occur during sleep. Our dream-life is rich in images, in anecdotes from our deepest past. The trick is to transcribe them IMMEDIATELY without any distraction. I have notebooks at my bedside and on the bathroom window sill. When I wake during the night or first thing in the morning, I capture the dream motif before it evaporates. If not a whole poem, I get some great lines this way.
- Daydreams and visions. Now and then I get a waking flash – from the past or of a vivid thing before me as if I could see into its essence. I KNOW the flower or the wind or silverware. I carry little notebooks in purse, pockets and on the seat in my Prius to receive without editing whatever I intuit, however it comes to me.
- Inspiration walks. I love to walk. If I set out with the intention that I will find something fascinating to craft I almost always do – and usually it is not at all what I expect. It isn’t the madrone tree that leaps into vision as I round a corner, but a snapshot of eating homemade dill pickles on my cousins’ farm when I was 12. Sometimes I get lit up when I am on the treadmill at the gym. Physical activity seems to trigger my subconscious. I once received a past life poetic insight on the stair climber.
- Looking at art. Visual arts of all kinds resonate with me and get my poetic motor revving. I adore art museums and galleries and public displays as well. It’s as though the painter’s or sculptor’s passion is contagious. Her lines become my lines in a new medium.
- Perhaps my best writing stimulus, though, comes from reading other writers, especially poets. I don’t copy or even emulate the other poem. I absorb the language as if poetry itself was a foreign tongue and when I speak it everything, and I mean everything, makes sense in the most cerebral/physical/emotional/spiritual way. Thank you, community of poets, for teaching me daily the tongue of my tribe!