Every so often I get stuck writing a poem that seems to have potential but just doesn’t develop. I like some of the images and my word choices seem original, but I’m just not ‘in love’ with my poem.
When this happens I have discovered that the reason is that I really don’t know why I am writing it. And if I don’t know why, then the passion just isn’t there and the poem remains mediocre. And I need to hit ‘delete.’
The ‘why’ to me is the energy of the piece. I write for a lot of reasons: to honor people that I love or consider courageous, to preserve or clarify a memory, because I find beauty in unusual place, to answer a question .
Now and then I start a poem with an interesting word or work from a prompt, but even then, as the poem unfolds, there needs to be some inner electricity I have traded my hours for.
Within the poem, the purpose doesn’t need to be overtly revealed. As we all know, the best writing is subtle and acts out rather than spells out its meaning. In fact, with writing, unexpected answers surface and I am often left with new questions or a fresh experience of beauty.
So when struggling with a poem that seems bored, I ask it: why are you even here? If it can’t answer me, I move on to another effort, another page for my purpose.