I am not sure how other poets write or what compels to write poetry versus prose. What I do know is that virtual all everything I write begins with a line or a partial line. Sometimes images accompany the words.
My latest poem – We are … began in such a way. A good friend told me that he was too old for bullshit. The words anchored themselves in my mind. He was, of course, referring to something specific to our conversation, but when I started to write it transformed itself.
It wasn’t just one thing it was all the things that keep us from our dreams and desires. It is all the junk we stuff our heads with that prevent us from really want. The junk lies to us and tells us that without it that we can never be happy, but the truth is we aren’t happy. We fool ourselves and hold back when we should go let go and take a chance. Nothing risked .. nothing gained.
Most of my poetry does this, transforms itself this way beginning with a thought and growing into an idea. The pieces that don’t do that, well those stay safety tucked away in my journals. They are memories of when my heart could not use the spoken word or tears to express itself so it took up the pen. A single memory or emotion locked on the page.
The poems that are shared are ones that I feel have a bigger message or aren’t so personal as to expose or cut someone I love. There are poems that I hope will strike a cord in the reader. It doesn’t always work that way and when it doesn’t I sit back and reflect on what I can do the next time around to make the words clearer. Sometimes I even edit the poem.
There are some poems that stay in the journal because they aren’t very good, at least not yet.
P.S. Here is another writer’s reflection on writing.