Tuesday, January 22, 2008

TO WRITE: The Poetry of Nature

As I write this I can see that the rounded line of hills that runs up and down San Francisco's East Bay region is changing color. Last week they were the color of straw. Then they looked like wet, dirty straw after several days of rain. And now they are a dusty green as they begin their annual transformation into glorious emerald green. I sometimes miss the Midwestern seasons I grew up with, but I treasure this metamorphosis each winter too.

Writing and poetry about nature is, of course, plentiful in our times and has been in many historical and ancient societies too. The Haiku form of poetry virtually always uses the natural world for its topics, in fact. (It's three lines long -- five syllables, seven syllables, and five syllables, respectively, in case you're trying to remember it right now.)

Play with this. . .

Choose a detail from the natural world -- you may want to go for a walk for inspiration, or even carefully look at a houseplant if you can't get out. Now write a list of at least ten words or phrases that come to mind when you think of this detail. (My list from the hills' color included: straw, emerald, dusty, trickling streams, blades of grass, tall weeds, my sneezing, the horizon, overseeing the bay, climbing rocky trails.)

Now use some items from this list to write a poem about the detail you originally chose. You may want to create a Haiku, or you might do a free verse poem by simply writing some sentences or phrases, and playing with where you "break" or end each line. If any analogies come to mind as you do this, you might include them too. For example, I might compare the hills' colorful transformation to my own recovery, or the seasons' inevitable return to my friend K's constant support.

Poetry can be a powerful means of expression and healing, and some people find it their favorite. Even if you're hesitant at first, give it a try and see what you come up with. Of course it's definitely fair game to alter it, adjust it and play with it later until you're happy with your poem. Just have fun.


Anonymous said...

love your site. I added a link to it on my links page on my blog - manic musings - http://manicmusings.wordpress.com
Thanks for the great tips! ~ Denise

Elizabeth Maynard Schaefer, Ph.D. said...

Thanks, Denise. I just checked out manic musings and it's great -- I love your artwork! You're creative in so many ways. -- Beth

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much Beth! your book sounds wonderful. ~ Denise