Poetry in disguise: using your casual writing to discover the poet within

poetry-in-disguise

I can bet that many of you, as a little kid (just as I did) liked to have a small notebook or a diary where you would write your cutest and most intricate secrets – how you hated your lunch or how that boy in the second row always gave you weird looks and laughed at your braces.

And I do believe that even today so far I have never met a real boredom – because I’m always doodling, jotting something down and I find easy ways to amuse myself. That habit of simply recording your thoughts can have a deeper meaning and transfer into something more beautiful and valuable. Today I want to share my experience with that.

I’m a strong advocate for journaling and daily ‘casual’ writing, because if you look at it more clearly, it is a perfect guide and companion: paper can hold on to anything, it is there without any judgment, ‘listening’ and helping you reflect on your daily thoughts, feelings and experiences. I believe that our journal/diary entries can be a great source for poetry writing as it is a simple tool where you express yourself in a variety of ways – writing but also collecting and keeping small memorabilia (like scrap book), photographs, pictures, making interesting collages, vision boards, to do lists, goals and ext.

All that merged with poetry that accentuates language and experience can lead to developing your own little master piece. Any journal entry can be an inexhaustible source to discover poems as journal is a bridge between you and your perception of life. When you start to write, it is adventure for itself as you never know what might happen and where the words will lead you. You might get sudden burst of creative inspiration and from there transform it into the most beautiful poem. There are no barriers, limitations or vocabular sensitivities. You write who you are, in that moment. What I like about having journal as an inspiration for poetry writing is that it allows you to examine questions you probably wouldn’t consider ‘poetical enough’. But there’s the catch: it is a place for openness, no hide and seek games – it’s just you and your real interests, desires, emotions – raw, uncensored.

If you read your writing entries more carefully (and in the title I on purpose used term casual writing instead of journaling because even drawings and doodling can be translated into a poem – many people don’t keep journal per se but like occasionally to write and draw) you can recognize where poetry is well disguised and waits for you to be discovered.

What to look for?

  1. Pay attention to the language.

    Are there any words and sentences that seem more melodical, poetical, that offer sensual rhythm – being that about your beautiful pet, funny afternoon with your child or romantic evening with your spouse – these are emotions that can be translated into poetry.

  1. Pay attention to the feelings.

    Follow your writing entries to see where you write/draw with passion and strength, where you eloquently describe what happened to you (being that injury, pain or even a dispute with a friend), where all your senses are awaken and your descriptions are very detail and elaborate – from there you can derive sincere and strong poem.

  1. Pay attention to the core themes that are repeating.

    These are your central life issues and reveal what is deeply rooted inside and what’s important to you. In your poem you can further elaborate those messages, explore their meaning and get clearer insight on how they are impacting your life. In my case, that’s the issue of health – how that impacts everything that I’m doing, my general quality of life and many of my poems are health and family related.

In one my future posts I intent to discuss in more detail how we can use journal writing to enhance our language and poetic expression.

Do you journal or write every day? How that impacts your poetry writing? Please, share in the comments below.

The tightness and the nilness round that space
when the car stops in the road, the troops inspect
its make and number and, as one bends his face

towards your window, you catch sight of more
on a hill beyond, eyeing with intent
down cradled guns that hold you under cover

and everything is pure interrogation
until a rifle motions and you move
with guarded unconcerned accelerationโ€”

a little emptier, a little spent
as always by that quiver in the self,
subjugated, yes, and obedient.

So you drive on to the frontier of writing
where it happens again. The guns on tripods;
the sergeant with his on-off mike repeating

data about you, waiting for the squawk
of clearance; the marksman training down
out of the sun upon you like a hawk.

And suddenly you’re through, arraigned yet freed,
as if you’d passed from behind a waterfall
on the black current of a tarmac road

past armor-plated vehicles, out between
the posted soldiers flowing and receding
like tree shadows into the polished windscreen.

Seamus Heaney


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17 Comments

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  1. I keep a notebook close by at all times. It’s where I write all my poems’ first drafts. I don’t worry about what I’m writing or how. I just write. It’s works really well for me. Sometimes, I may start writing a poem in my head while on the treadmill, when I don’t have to keep track of repetitions etc. I immediately transfer to a notebook as soon as I’m done. ๐Ÿ™‚ I love my notebook. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I try to put something in a notebook / journal everyday, even if it is only a few lines. It is surprising how these notes can act as seeds for poems when you re-read them at a later date. A nice post Maja and one that has made me think more about a daily writing practice.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. More than “I agree,” I say to all three, “Of course!” I get three word-a-day lists. Occasionally, a word becomes a poem, and I pick up on metrical-sounding lines in whatever I’m reading. I keep a daily journal with three themes, most generally, Self, World, and Writing (note the Oxford Comma). Think of dancers or athletes who exercise every day to be ready to perform. Writing a journal entry on anything from brooding introspection to verbal slapstick comedy or just plain fun with words is the equivalent, limbering me up for the day’s writing.

    The Seamus Heaney poem is stunning! I’m hearing work with prosody I’ll be studying for a while.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I do tend to write a blog piece and a poem every day. They typically have a thread between the two. Bringing poetry into my writing has transformed me immeasurably and my writing has improved steadily too! Love this.

    Liked by 2 people

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