Tony Morris - Poetry Writing Workshop    
Opening the Poem: Invention and the Creative Imagination.

The life of the poet is sustained in moments of quiet solitude, where the romance that begins with the creative drive to fill the empty space of the page is consumated with words—words that feed the creative fire of the imagination where poetry is born.

But in this strange romance, between poet and word, the word is always devoured in the fire, burned down to ashes by the poet's need to fill imagination's appetite, to find the perfect artful balance that will speak imagination's longings. So that finally, as in any true romance, the poet is always left wanting.

There is, however, a consolation. For the word, like the fabled Phoenix, can always rise out of the ashes—reborn, nurtured, and sustained by the poet's attentative act of close observation and reflection—such that, once more in the closeness of quiet solitude, the re-enactment of the romance can begin again.

But this is no easy romance. Like most romances, it requires much of the poet in patience, diligence, practice, and, at times, a willingness to endure heartache and sorrow. Afterall, rebirth can be a painful process. But like the Phoenix, what rises out of the ashes can shine with a brilliance never before seen.

In this workshop, you will be given the tools to sustain the writing life of the poet and make your poems shine. We will discuss how poems are generated, how to use metaphor, symbol, and simile to connect your imaginative thought process to the words, the use and value of forms, a variety of the many types of poems, how to open and close a poem, and how to use the workshop as a tool of revision. We will also discuss the business end of poetry: how to write a cover letter, research reviews for publication, and how and when to send a poem out for consideration.

Below is a series of questions which will get you started at thinking about the process of creation, and how you approach the craft and art of writing poetry. Answer them as best as you can, then come back at the end of the course and see how your answers have changed.

  • What is your vision of the life of a poet? Pick an image, symbol, or metaphor of yourself as a poet, then write it down. Where are you? How do you spend your days? Where do you want to go? How and why is poetry important to you. Does your image fit your ideal?
  • What is creativity? Describe the creative faculty, and discuss where that faculty is located (in your intellect, emotions, soul, etc.).
  • Are the processes of learning and creativity linked. If so, how are they linked? Discuss the value of discipline to creativity—are they connected? does one feed the other? how? Are the activities of creativity and discipline important to your image of being a poet? How does discipline fit into your image or metaphor as poet?
  • Does looking at the world through the lens of poetic imagination change the way you see the world? How?
  • Is there a link between your creativity and your experiences? If so, what is that link, and how would you use it in your work as a poet? If not, from where does your creativity originate? How do you access it?
  • Does your experience with creativity value the fleeting, "beautiful" moments over the everlasting "truth"? Are either, or both important aspects of your own poetic vision?
  • How do you handle writer's block? Do you think that writing about specific moments in time is easier than writing about more generalized thoughts or ideas? Which fits with your ideas of poetry the best?
  • When you face an unknown experience, do you do so with dread or excitement? Describe such an experience, and discuss how it fits into the way you approach writing poetry.
  • What is your right hand touching? Name it. Now erase the name and turn what you're feeling into a process by describing what your hand is feeling.
  • How were you able to tell what your hand was feeling? Was it through an absolute level of knowledge like a "known" fact, or did your mind move down into your hand to feel what it was feeling? Or did your mind stay in your head while your hand told your brain what it felt?

I look forward to seeing you all in workshop. Let's have fun!

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Part 8 -
Free Verse