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Joanne the Poet - The Poetry of Joanne M. Clarkson

Engaging Poetry Line by Line

I love being “in” poetry – immersed in the best language driven by intense feeling. In order to do this more fully, I decided to create a poetry practice for myself.  Each day I select one line or phrase from a favorite, or newly discovered, poet, write or type it out, tape it to the window sill in front of my desk and read it over several times during the day until I feel I ‘know’ the line.

I decided to take a line instead of a whole poem. Mastering a few exquisitely chosen words rather than an entire poem seems more powerful and less overwhelming.  I do, often, read the whole from which the verse is chosen, but it is the line itself that empowers the meditation.

I began with Rusty Morrison (www.rustymorrison.com) whom I consider the mistress of the mystically perfect image. Here are a couple of examples from Beyond the Chainlink (Ahsahta Press, 2014).

“Like the sparrow’s multi-ligatured trilling

linking its vowels with ghosts.”

“Photo of a horse’s eye that I carry into my dream

isn’t the eye I carry out again.”

“Every loss

is my accomplice.”

I am also currently choosing from Linda Pastan, Tracy K. Smith, Walt Whitman and Charles Wright.

I love the new book shelves in the library where I can discover what is just minted. The 811.54s and now the 811.6s.  A great place to mine lines.

This takes less time than one might imagine. When you make the intent to find your line it comes to you.  I’ll bet there are dozens of anthologies and slender volumes on shelves you haven’t opened for months if not years.  Pull one out.  Let the pages unfold.  You will find your inspiration.

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