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Joanne the Poet - The Poetry of Joanne M. Clarkson

Moments That Have to Be Poems

How do poems come to us? The theme, the details, the words, the images, the channel into enlightenment? How do we become our art?

When I consider my life, I realize that many of my happiest moments are those when I am creating a poem, at any stage in the process. How do I place myself inside this energy at will? Is that even possible?

Art isn’t easy. Yet, when I am writing I feel light and joyful, energized, and far beyond myself and circumstance. So how do I find my Poetry Place, or better, my Poetry Grace?

  1. Putting myself in the country of poetry. I read at least one poem every morning. No matter the nation of origin, poetic ‘language’ is the same. There is drama, passion, cadence, original perspective, and sound, the deep primitive resonance that says “This is right. Even when it’s not. This brings me to center and then explodes!” I find poems both in print and on the Web. In old anthologies, in chapbooks of friends and poets I have never met who have become mentors and friends. In find them in Poem-a-Day and in online journals. In libraries and bookstores. Everywhere language exists.
  2. Nature is an obvious and endless source of inspiration. I am fortunate to live by the Salish Sea. The shore offers endless images and metaphor and rhythm and sound. From shells to shorebirds to remnants of trash. And the mountains. And a single tree. And my garden that nourishes me every day with its seasoning.
  3. Human connection is equally important to me. Chance meetings. Unbreakable friendships. Small betrayals. Language and laughter and sorrow in other mouths. Palms and hair and tenderness and the times I felt rebuffed. The instances I witnessed courage or woundedness.
  4. I love art galleries and museums. Entering a realm of creativity always stimulates creativity in me. It’s like stepping into ecstasy and borrowing some. Or agony so I can feel and see more clearly. Nothing great is born without emotion and I love to immerse myself in the feeling of others. It too is a universal language. So many aspects of beauty to be considered.
  5. Memory. Looking at my life with perspective and writing from my vulnerable self. What I have done and known. What I am proud of and what I regret.
  6. The Unusual and events that make us question, both ourselves, our community and country, the world, and even life beyond this one. A chance meeting. A silence. An atrocity. An act so simple and kind it brings tears.

I feel that if I begin each day by affirming my vocation as poet, the poems will be there for me. A beginning, a word, a solution to a line I wrote days or years ago. A shudder of feeling that makes my fingers move over the keys. A fellow poet once told me, “Anything can be a poem.” Her forte’ was the ordinary. Which, in the life of a true poet, is extraordinary of course!

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