Write After Reading: Writing the Life Poetic (Chapter 9)

Write After Reading: Living the Life Poetic is a weekly online book club with poetry participation. It alternates between my blog and Susan Taylor Brown’s blog. Last week, we chatted about Chapter 7 at Susan’s blogso feel free to head over there to see what you missed. Today we’re right here, talking about Chapter 9.

Living the Life Poetic. That’s the title of Chapter 9. Doesn’t it sound wonderful? A poet’s life should be poetic, right? For me, that calls to mind mystery and silence and exotic places and tons of writing time.

Huh. Just about nothing could be further from my life, which is in-your-face and loud and fairly mundane, with very little actual writing time, especially for poetry. So I clearly need the lessons of this chapter.

Cohen talks about the need to ruminate and respond to the “events, ideas, people, and experiences that impact us.” She says, “This kind of receptivity takes practice, especially in this fast-paced world where it is more common and acceptable to exhaust ourselves doing things rather than slowing down to digest those experiences that move us.” Amen, sister. And I am out of practice.

I regularly tell myself that I have to slow down, but I just can’t figure out how. Work is incredibly hectic, and if that changes, I don’t have an income! I know, I know. There are other parts to my life. And so far this year, I’ve been working on calming things down. Little by little, it’s working, but I’m nowhere near as calm and focused as I’d like to be. What about you?

The other quote I love from this chapter is: “I believe that this is what poetry demands of us: a willingness to savor mystery instead of stampeding toward certainty.” I love that! Even though I’m usually right there at the front of the stampede, breaking down the doors to the arena of certainty, routine, and plain-spokenness.

One thing I noticed in New York last week was how wonderful it is to look at new things and to keep thinking, “I could sit right here and write for a couple of hours.” Garden in the Ford Foundation building? Green and silent. Give me a laptop! New York Public Library? Give me time to drink in the wood and brass and painted ceilings! United Nations building? Let me sit and respond to these striking images with some poems–now.

But I also know that I have similar opportunities right here in Minneapolis, but I’m just not seeing them. I’m not open to them. So one of my goals this coming week is to find one new spot near my house where I might like to do some writing. I’m going to look for someplace unconventional (not a coffee shop or bookstore, in other words), but where I could still whip out my laptop without problems. Do you guys have inspiring places close to home where you like to go write? I’d love to hear about them!

OK, here’s the exercise I did, and I invite you to do it, too, and share your results in a comment. Or do any other exercise from this chapter and share that instead, in a comment. Whatever moves you!

Leave your house, apartment, yurt, dormitory, or office and spend an hour out in the world observing. Whether you’re sitting on a bench in a deserted park or jostling through Grand Central Station, your only job is to look, listen, and notice what catches your attention. Come home and write a description of one sight you saw, one sound you heard, one memory that was evoked, and one discovery you made. This exercise will get easier the more you practice it.

Also, feel free to share your thoughts about anything else in Chapter 9! What do agree with? Disagree with? Not understand? I’m looking forward to our conversation!

Next week, Susan will tackle Chapter 11: Come to Your Senses.


Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 2,504 other subscribers

Are You Looking For?

Poetry Friday posts

Classroom Connections posts

All my poetryactions

Go to my Poetry page for:

  • National Poetry Month projects through the years
  • Small Reads Roundups (poems grouped by topic)
  • Introductions to several favorite poetry forms
Tags
#waterpoemproject15 Words or Less Poems20for2030 Painless Classroom Poems50 State Poemsacrosticsactivity pagesactivity sheetALAA Leaf Can Be...Amy Ludwig VanDerwaterA Need to FeedanthologiesanthologyA Rock Can Be...art projectsaudiopoemsawardsbad newsBarbara Juster EsbensenBilly Collinsbiopoemsblog tourbookalikesbook festivalsBookSpeak!book spine poemsbook trailersbop poembyr a thoddaidcafepresscalendar poemsCamp Read-a-LotCan Be... bookscan be... poemsCapstoneCarol Varsalonacascade poemsCatherine FlynnCCRA.W.3CCRA.W.4CCRA.W.5centoschapter bookschoral compositionschristina rossetticinquainsCLAclassified ad poemsclassroom connectionclassroom connectionsClover Kittyconferences and conventionscrown sonnetscybilsdansaDare to DreamDavid Elliottdeeper wisdom poemdefinitosdiamantesdiversitydizaindodoitsuDot DayDouglas Floriandownloadablesdrum corpse.e. cummingsekphrastic poemsepistolary poemsequation poemsessentialethereeseventsexquisite corpseFairy Tale Garage Salefamilyfibonaccifiction picture booksfinding familyfirefightersforeign editionsfound poemsfree author zoomsfree versefrom studentsgeesegeorgia heardghazalGift Taggiveawaygolden shovelgoldilocksgratitudehaikuheart of aheart of a teacherHeidi MordhorstHelen FrostHighlightshow-to poemshow to make a rainbowI Am FromI Am poemsidiomsif you want to knit some mittensIf You Were the MoonILAimagepoemsinterviewin the middle of the nightIRAIrelandIrene LathamJ. Patrick LewisJanet WongJoyce SidmanKendraKerlanKidlit Comboslailaura's board booksLaura's booksLaura's poemsLaura's readingsLaura ShovanLee Bennett HopkinsLilian MoorelimericksLinda Booth SweeneyLine Leads the WayLion of the Skylist poemslittle free librarylive writingLullaby and Kisses Sweetlyricsmadness poetrymargaret simonMarilyn Singermary lee hahnmask poemsMeet My FamilyMelissa StewartMentors for Rentmentor textsmetaphorMichelle Myers LacknerMillbrookMinnesota Book Awardsmoonmy reading lifemy writing processN+7naaninarrative poemsNational Poetry Month 2012 (haiku a day)National Poetry Month 2014 (riddle-ku)National Poetry Month 2015National Poetry Month 2016National Poetry Month 2017 (#wonderbreak)national poetry month 2018 (haiku a day)National Poetry Month 2020National Poetry Month 2021 (#EquationPoem)national poetry month 2022 (sticky-note poems)National Poetry Month 2023 (Digging for Poems)National Poetry Month 2024 (magnipoems)ncteNerdy Book Clubnifty newsnifty stuffNikki Grimesnonfictionnonfiction booksNonfiction Writers Dig Deepnovelsnovels in verseodesOne Minute Till BedtimeoppositifyOskar's VoyagepadletpantoumsparodiesPatreonpeacepersonalpet poemsphotopoetryphrase acrosticspicture booksplagiarismpoempicspoemspoems for two voicespoemsketchpoetic pursuitsPoetry 7poetryactionspoetry activitiesPoetry Blastpoetry booksPoetry FridayPoetry Friday AnthologiesPoetry Princessespoetry promptspoetry sistersPoetry Tips for Teachersprogressive poempublishing processpuddle songPutridquotationsraccontinosRandy Salasread-aloudreadaloudreading poetry in the classroomRebecca Kai Dotlichrecipe poemsrefugeesresearchreview copiesreviewsrevisionrhyming booksrhyming nonfictionrhyming picture booksRhyming Picture Books the Write Wayrhyming poemsRiddle-kuriddle poemsRock Can Be...Rock the Blogrondeau redoublesRudyard Kiplingsalas snippetsSCBWIschool visitsScotlandseasonssecrets of the loonSELsestinasshrinking daysskinnyskypeslice of lifesmall readssnack snooze skedaddlesnowman-coldsonnetsStampede!storm poemstorytimestorywalkstudent poemsstudent workSylvia VardellTanita Davistankatautogramteachableteacher resourcesteen/adult poemsterza rimasthankfulthank yous and referencesthe business sidethings to do iftracy nelson maurertrioletstunie munson-bensonvideosVikram MadanvillanellevillanellesWater Can Be...wealthy elementaryWe BelongWhat's InsideWhy-kuwinterwonderwonderbreakword of the yearwordplaywordsmithswork for hirewritingwriting bookswriting processwriting promptswriting the life poeticyoung authors conferencesYouTubeZapZap Clap Boomzenozentangle
Show More Show Less

Discover more from Laura Purdie Salas

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading

Join Laura's monthly newsletter for eductators

Get three of Laura's favorite poetry activities when you subscribe to "Small Reads."