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Joanne the Poet - The Poetry of Joanne M. Clarkson

Automatic Writing

Automatic Writing, the Ultimate Free-Write

Sometimes my poems try too hard. I sit at my desk with an idea in mind about form or content or some message or question I am dealing with. I demand an image, coerce a line. I model from a famous poem I admire. I will the piece onto the paper or computer screen.  I make myself write every day.

Lately I have been relying more on my Muses. Getting rid of the forced march of words, left to right. Just giving myself over to inspiration and self-expression.

Everyone who has ever taken a writing class or seminar has done a ‘free write.’ From a prompt either specific or as broad as memory, we face down the blank page and just let ideas come.  We grasp at anything to start and then free associate. This can create a pretty good poem.

Automatic writing is different from free-writing and I am liking it better. I start with absolutely nothing. Absolutely. Nothing. I breathe and unfocus or close my eyes so there is nothing but me and – not a blank page – a blank everything. I get rid of tension down to the cells and atoms. It is like beginning a meditation or yoga session. Just me and life force energy. Opening into voice and vision.

From a pin-prick of light, something begins to emerge. Often it is a memory I could not have consciously called up. Other times it is a sound – or recently I received a smell that then triggered deep recall. I have even had scenes and ideas that I believe came from my genetic or etheric past. (From time to time I have ‘remembered’ scenes that I think come from my grandmother’s and great grandmother’s lives. I see places I have never been.). I put myself in a space of revelation.

Rather than a call to action, I accept a call to love. Everything. At depth, myself. This is when my best poetry comes. I write without interjecting my conscious thought until I feel I have received all there is to receive. The Muse has said her piece. Then I can smooth out the writing, cut and clarify as needed. Find an even better word or two.

Is everything I get profound and life-shattering? Of course not. Do I let myself think about it and consciously co-create more later? Sure!

I come out of these sessions refreshed and excited. I believe both reading and writing poetry should ‘take us out of ourselves.’ This is why I love it so much and why it has been my spiritual and artistic practice throughout my life. Poetry is a constant surprise and delight. Over the past several months it has enriched and amazed me yet again.

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