the inspiration behind poems

today, i’m wondering about inspiration.

i take poems from everywhere, conversation, films, random info from CSI, the color and art history stuff that i learn at work. anyhoo. i think my newest poems are coming from literature that i’m trying to study with a little more care. as i explained Monday, i’ve been ‘reading’ Without Sanctuary and Seems Like Murder Here for the last 18 months or so. i started out wanting to understand more about the culture and history of lynching and the links inherent in blues music. the poems haven’t necessarily been stellar but i did particularly wanted to work on Blues Obligatto and i was hoping to come to some understanding of what it’s like to be born, to live and to grow up in a culture that can for all intents and purposes gift the world with a phenomenon like lynching.

well i’ve learned too much now and i’ve only just begun to write the poems that i really want to write on that subject. but the inspiration thing also comes from two other sources. Marty’s work with Lizzie B’s index finger, the notion of absolutely writing the poem from some very specific perspective and Mara’s Carolina poem with
it’s insidious ambience which crystallized my feelings about my experience of some parts of the south, both gave me a sense of how and why i wanted to write Lace & Knife as well as what i hope will be the next small series of poems. This idea of lynchings belonging to the mob, the tree, the rope, the whip, night flowering jessamine, the small smiling boy in the corner of a photo of a hanging man, Cattle
Kate’s longhorns and of course eventually, when I can wrap my head around it, the victim is really engaging to me. Trying to make something comprehesible of the relationships that exist between all the factors makes me want to write poems.

so ok, don’t all jump in now but i’d like to hear from the rest of you on what is inspiring or has inspired your current poems.


it wasnt that long a go that just going to an open mic was enough inspiration to lay down a new poem and have it breathe on the open mic.

it may go back to something corie feiner said about writers block recently “one of my teachers told me, ‘you have to be less critical, dear'” and that rings way true.

as of late, most of my inspiration from having to be on the mic. features are a wonderful chance to arrange my poems in a way that shows me i am not really writing individual poems but actually trying to capture moments of a bigger experience.

and then there is “the new hotness” the acentos term for your new work that may not always be a perfect portrait and, in fact, just be scribblings on a napkin but its not the point as to how polished the work is but the celebration that there is new work to polish. every attempt at a poem leads to come kind of understanding as to what makes us tick as writers. i love hearing poems that were just jotted down on the train ride up cuz i can say i was there when the new hotness was born (i can still remember lynne arriving straight from the airport with bags still in tow jumpin on the mic and layin down the first (public) version of “Ode to Rita Marley”) as an organizer at acentos, i always try to make sure i have some new work to share on
the mic whenever i am not hosting (as a rule, i dont like to read on nights that i host) to keep the tradition going

another serious shot of inspiration comes from the camaraderie of team_acentos. i have been to an insane number of open mics with rich, jess & fish in the last two years as well as having the pleasure of co-featuring with them. its great to have them in the audience and be an anchor of sorts but every once in a while i say
“damn, they must be sick to death of me doing this poem all the time”
so somewhere in the back of my mind, i am coming up with new poems to keep it fresh and interesting for all of us.

as for the actual well spring of this inspiration, it usually comes from conversations just like this and usually with all of y’all yahoos ((the louderARTS Project)) (said in the most loving 3am disco fries & beer kinda way)

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