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You Know...You Don't Look Much Like A Poet
"You know... You Don't Look much Like A Poet"
By Kim Morrison
I love the questions, the remarks, and quizzical looks I get from people when they read my poetry. The stuff that comes out of the mouths of average people and non-writers are by far the funniest and quite often the most precious, but I like the tough questions from writers and would be writers as well. One remark I here quite often that always makes me smile is "You know...You don't look much like a poet." I usually say I am not sure what a poet is suppose to look like these days, but in some photos Whitman looked like a homeless person, Poe looked like a man on the very brink of insanity, and Frost looked like a doddering old fool, so I would not dwell on appearances . The next question that usually follows this one that makes my smile even broader is "where does all the stuff you write about come from." I quickly respond by saying the "stuff" I write about is all around us. We see, hear, and feel the love, emotion, death, beauty, joy, triumph, loss, pain, suffering and so on in our lives each and every day. We are inspired when one fruit on this vast tree of life appears for whatever reason to stand out to us just a little more than all the rest. Is everything people write about inspired by something? I think anyone that has ever struggled or labored to put words on paper could easily argue against the thought that everything is inspired. However, I would argue the reason why your are struggling or laboring over a piece you are trying to write might be because you temporarily lost some connection to that which inspired you to pick up your pen or sit in front of the keyboard in the first place.
As for myself, I cannot think of one piece of my poetry or anything I have ever written for that matter that was not inspired by something, someone, or some situation. When I look at some of my old writing, I often cannot exactly recall what inspired me to write them, but I know something moved me to put pen to paper. However, my best pieces of poetry or what I think are my best pieces of poetry I will never forget what inspired them because those pieces are all based on real people, places, situations, and so forth directly connected in some form or fashion to me which makes the inspiration for those pieces much more palpable or tangible. My poem "Dear Rosebud" is a good example of the kind of tangible connection I am talking about because this poem was inspired by my granddaughter and all the students I have transported on my school bus over the last eleven years. In that length a time one gets to see a lot of damaged children come and go. In the poem I refer to them as roses a flower frequently associated with women in poetry and music. As a grower and lover of roses, I have a direct connection to the vehicle of my poem as well. My poem "Unknowing Hearts" is another piece that was inspired by two middle school students on my bus. These two children have had a relationship with each other that has lasted longer than some marriages at an age when it is more common to see them to flit from one puppy love episode to another. Just by observing them I came to the conclusion that their feelings could be as intense as any adult, but being young they lack the same judgment adults should have. This lack of judgment makes them "Unknowing Hearts," but at the same time that makes what they feel pure and free of all tethers. If two were running on love alone without hesitation, reservation or fear, it would be like being caught in a emotional rapid. My other connection to this piece is the cascade and the big waterfall because I was describing a place where I used to swim as a child. I have this same tangible connection to "Natural Seduction," "A First Love Gone Rogue," "The Woman In The Window," and many other of my poems as well. Now, this does not mean that you could not be inspired by something not directly connected to you, but in those cases you are mentally struck by something which inspired you to write. "The Room," one my oldest pieces of poetry if not the oldest, was inspired by a infamous child abuse case that happened here in Florida many years ago. What inspired me to write this was the shear brutality of the child's death coupled with the fact that they took the boy from a loving home and placed him back in the care of his mother and stepfather. The stepfather crushed the skull of this three year old boy when he slammed him head first into a toilet bowl just because he soiled his pants. I was new at all this then and tried to write a sonnet out of something that would most likely better suited to free verse.
Inspiration can come to us at any time, in any place, and from anything, but the more we are connected to what we are inspired by the more it resonates in our writing. The difference between writers, especially poets, and the average person is we are able to turn the smallest tiniest nugget of this thing called life and turn it into a written work of art.