To celebrate National Poetry Month, we asked a few poet-moms about their craft, their process and their ideas for making poetry a little more accessible to us all. Each Tuesday in April we pose a question to the poets and share each of their responses, followed by a poetry-related writing prompt.
Who and what are your greatest sources of inspiration and why?
Samantha Reynolds: My toddler is an endless source of inspiration because his world is so magical, funny and odd. If I slow down and watch him at play, he is a poem in motion.
Julie Brooks Barbour: My greatest sources of inspiration are my family, the natural world, and the body. My family inspires me through the experiences we’ve shared and the stories they’ve told or passed down. The natural world has always been interesting to me. I grew up in the country and my father was a biology teacher, so there were always books and magazines around the house about animals and nature. I observe birds, insects, animals, even the weather, and sometimes these inspire the beginning or a section of a poem. Lastly, I’m inspired by the body because of the ways in which my own body has changed from adolescence to motherhood and beyond. I’m also curious about how we cope with changes in our bodies through illness, trauma, and age.
Lyla Willingham Lindquist: That’s a surprisingly difficult question. Perhaps I could say I find inspiration in particular objects or events (often quite unremarkable) that arise and give me a needed image to understand a certain circumstance or emotion, as in the way my malfunctioning dryer gave me the words to explain a situation that needed to be addressed in my life (click here). As for the “who” part of the question, I would simply say the people I love most deeply inspire my best work.
For Your Journal: Play With Poetry Prompt
For writers in any genre, inspiration is everywhere and half the battle is learning to think like a writer in order to recognize what wants to be written.
Found Poetry is a poetic form similar to a collage in which words taken from anywhere – other texts, newspaper headlines, street signs, song lyrics, food packaging, even overheard conversations – become the building blocks of a poem.
A fun way to explore this genre is to visit your closest bookshelf and write down eight or ten book titles. You might choose all ten titles from your kids’ bookshelves, use titles of novels, professional or self-help books, or some combination. The possibilities are endless.
Once you have your list, see what patterns, images, and ideas emerge from the book spine words you’ve chosen and start to piece together your poem, filling in additional words as needed, or breaking up book titles if necessary.
About the Poets:
In 2011, Samantha Reynolds pledged to write one poem a day to try to “be present” and not miss the fleeting first year of her son’s life. Now she wouldn’t know how to stop even if she wanted to. Her popular poetry blog, bentlily.com was featured in ‘O’ Magazine and has sparked a movement of people around the world to slow down and savor their lives. When not racking up reams of poetry, she runs Echo Memoirs, a publishing company specializing in personal memoirs and company histories. She lives with her husband and son in Vancouver, BC.
Julie Brooks Barbour is the author of a chapbook, Come To Me and Drink (Finishing Line Press, 2012). Her poems have appeared in Waccamaw, Kestrel, UCity Review, diode, Prime Number Magazine, and on Verse Daily. She teaches at Lake Superior State University where she is co-editor of the journal Border Crossing. She can be found online at juliebrooksbarbour.weebly.com.
Lyla Willingham Lindquist is a claims adjuster, helping people and insurance companies make sense of loss. She works out of her home in the rural Midwest most days, and other days, out of yours. When she’s not crunching numbers or scaling small buildings, you can find her on the sofa with a gentle cup of tea. She’s an editor at Tweetspeak Poetry and also writes occasionally at LylaWillinghamLindquist.com.