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Stew21
03-15-2006, 11:37 PM
I'm curious about a couple of things. After reading some incredible work here and looking at my own, I am feeling a bit "underwhelmed" by my ability to conjure solid images in poetry.
So I thought I would ask you all some questions regarding this and see if I might be able to go a bit deeper on some of these images (I want to learn from you!)

When you first decide on a topic/theme/idea for your poem, do you then find images that create the impact and zero in on that meaning, or does it all come to you at once in inspiration? (I reference NeuroFizz's latest work with Michelangelo's crooked finger, did you picture this in your head and describe it or was it immediately an image that you felt described what you wanted to create? Or even further, did the picture come to your mind as the inspiration and help you to arrive at the idea for the poem?) Does the metaphor come WITH the idea immediately or do you look for it?

When you choose an image for metaphor in a poem, do you imagine the words that feel right and true and follow it to an image that correlates? I am not nearly visual enough for this and unfortunately it makes my concepts a bit more abstract than concrete. I like concrete poetry, and I typically fail at this. (I'm picturing W. Haskins here - waves cresting, etc - that movement is so concrete and integral in that piece.)

Finally, in chosing words to create your poem, do you go with what feels accurate and true or do you go with what inspiration requires of you? (not sure if I'm explaining this one very well.) To me, each word has a feel to it, does that feel dictate the language of the poem or does the image/metaphor dictate the feel and the language follows?

Jeez -- I hope some of this made sense. I just think I need to get more specific, get deeper on images, tighten up the words, seek out appropriate metaphors that are concrete and I am curious about the process other writers take. And I'm afraid that I shouldn't have to seek the metaphor that it should already be there.

Really, if you ignore the questions and just speak to your own metaphor/imagery process, that would be fine too.

(sorry for the ramble, I don't believe I stated any of this very well.) And THANKS!

Trish

ddgryphon
03-16-2006, 12:47 AM
First off, William started an excellent thread more people should read and participate in: http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=28631

Anatomy of a Poem in which we discuss process for a specific poem.

To answer some of your questions, yes, and no, and yes, and no.http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/images/smilies/biggrin.gif

Almost anything can trigger the poetic impulse: sometimes the scene comes whole and is structured, sometimes something is seen or heard and it sparks something and you try to build out from it (finding workable images or clarifying a single image). The most important thing about building an image or moment--especially in a poem--is to include as many senses as you can. Taste, touch, smell, sight, sound, and to use words that help each of these along.

I know that isn't super-clear, but that is in a nutshell how it works (differently at different times and it varies from poet to poet).

If you want exercises, get an art book and describe a piece of art using as many senses as you can (don't worry if it isn't a great poem) just work it until you feel the words evoke the spirit of the painting and you almost sense it from the hearing. When you're done, the painting should be unneeded to know what it was.

Hope this helps and that other folks chime in, because there are many views and experiences vary.

NeuroFizz
03-16-2006, 01:20 AM
This is a tough one. For me, whether it be prose, or poetry, once a thought-stream is established, things just flicker. And, this is not a total joke--it frequently happens in the shower (not very environmentally conscious, or economical, of me). One thing that helps me comes from my prose. I like to think of similies while writing, although I try my best to avoid over-using them. But if I play a game where I think of an object, a thought, or a concept, and then describe it with a simile, I need only forget the original descriptor and go with the simile by itself. This rarely translates directly into a poem, although it is a good way (for me) to get my mind working in that way. I don't have any insights into metaphors since, for me, they are usually those (cerebral) shower pop-ups.

Stew21
03-16-2006, 01:34 AM
I think I find that even if using a metaphor or simile I can't leave it standing alone to represent that feeling I must attach it to something literal and I explain the mofo to death...I had mentioned last week, I'm too wordy. that's a piece of it. (note to self: shut up and let the picture take over.)

thanks for this input...I was just working on a piece that I have dicked with for way too long and was frustrated by it...perhaps this one needs to go in my crap pile and left alone...

but please, any and all that want to talk process of creating an image or metaphor for the theme, please please do!

Trish

well here's a happy coincidence, I had my WIP pain in the @ss in a word doc, had been screwing with it, accidentally (or maybe not so accidentally) closed without saving MAJOR changes, just reopened and am back where I start with the POS (no longer a work in progress is is now a Piece Of $#it)

Trish - refraining from a stream of profanity at lots of lost effort...but as I said, maybe it needed to be sent to the morgue of bad poetry, so I will consider it DONE...

William Haskins
03-16-2006, 01:39 AM
i'm swamped right now, but have some thoughts on this and will share them when i get a chance.

rich
03-16-2006, 01:43 AM
Most times I don't know that I'm about to do imagery. It becomes part of the story/poem/essay because I was trying to make something clear. Whatever the process is, I don't think there's a technique involved.

An example might be: I just wrote this opening paragraph to explain that there is no process--it's more like a cow giving up its milk from the pressure of a calf's poking.

Stew21
03-16-2006, 02:03 AM
i'm swamped right now, but have some thoughts on this and will share them when i get a chance.
I was hoping you would! :)

francisluke
03-16-2006, 04:26 AM
When you first decide on a topic/theme/idea for your poem, do you then find images that create the impact and zero in on that meaning, or does it all come to you at once in inspiration?


for myself, i choose to let the imagery (it's usually all i have going for me) surrounding the moment dictate the topic/theme/idea for most of my poems. i rarely set out to write with a defined purpose. i can't write that way. whatever's surrounding the moment (the people, the expressions on their faces, the color of the sky, the movement of a leaf) is what i draw from to express perhaps what i was thinking at the time or what i am thinking at the present. don't know if that will help you at all, but maybe focusing on what's going on around you first will then help define the musings inside your head.

luke

William Haskins
03-16-2006, 07:56 AM
you're right, of course, francisluke; direct observation can provide imagery and act as a springboard to metaphorical application.

as for stew's original question—here's one way to do it (and it was the way i developed a lot of poetry when i was younger). the first thing is to develop the theme, whether it's metaphorical or not. but for the sake of argument, let's say you're going for a metaphor.

let's say you've decide that life is a race, a simple metaphor, but it'll work. before you start crafting your lines, sit down with a blank sheet of paper. think of all of the ways that a human being can experience a race. there would be a physical element to it, obviously. but there would also be an emotional element and mental element.

there are others, but we'll limit it to those three. so make three columns with those as the headers. now just brainstorm each one in turn and list the associated images.

under "physical", you might have heavy breath(ing), heart pounding, sweat, pain.

under "emotional", you might have exhilaration, fear, glory, pride, desperation.

under "mental", you might have determination, defeat, discipline (which would apparently provide you with plenty of alliteration...)

anyway, now go back and look at your images, whether physical, internalized or symbolic.

they should bring your original metaphor ("life is a race") into much sharper focus.

then, just start playing with words and concepts, how one image might lead to another.

so there you go, that's one method i've used.

nowadays, i have poetry flowing through my mind constantly, like water from a faucet. the problem is, most of it is discolored and ugly and toxic.

i just try to stick a cup under it when it's flowing clearly.

Stew21
03-16-2006, 06:51 PM
thanks everyone. I have some thinking to do! :)
More like, I have some practicing to do. I know I have done this - and the images have grabbed me right along with the words, all at once, instant poem, (and quite by accident, it seems) because when I reach for it, I don't know where to get it.
thanks for the examples William.
I'll work on it!

dahmnait
03-16-2006, 06:53 PM
And I'm afraid that I shouldn't have to seek the metaphor that it should already be there. I wouldn't worry about this too much. Sometimes you seek the metaphor, sometimes it just is.

I used to look at others' poetry and see so much that was lacking in mine. I finally had to listen to those around me that my words touched them. I realized how much it was killing my muse. I don't consider myself a great poet or anything, but I now know I can turn a phrase when required.

This is an interesting topic. One I haven't really given much thought. When I first started writing poetry, I would imitate. I used poems that touched me as a springboard for my own. Now, I have a constant flow of words through my mind. I just can't always articulate them well on paper. http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/images/smilies/smile.gif One of the ways I help my muse is to jot down as much as I can. To be cliché, it is something along the lines of, "the more you use it, the better it gets."

To add to William's exercise, I like to take a tangible object and describe it to the senses (or with the senses) yet never actually stating the name of the object. I can see where his columns would work well with this.

One of the others is to mix the senses. Imagine you can taste music, or you can hear and see how chocolate tastes as it melts on your tongue. Soon you will find that are no longer imagining. For example, to me music is much more than sound. It's colors, it's taste, and it's touch. When I listen to the blues I see deep, vibrant colors of purple and blue. I can taste dark, silky chocolate and deep, oak flavored red wine. I can feel velvet wrapping around me. It is so much more of an experience than just hearing the music.

Sorry, I am rambling here. I am trying to wrap myself around this subject. I am finding the process of explaining the process http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/images/smilies/wink.gif quite fascinating. I don't think I answered any questions though. I'll have to think on this more.

kdnxdr
03-16-2006, 09:54 PM
Maybe that would be an interesting thread, William throw out an exercise to write a specific poem with specific objectives and see everyone's work on the same project?

Billytwice
03-17-2006, 12:29 AM
Trish

well here's a happy coincidence, I had my WIP pain in the @ss in a word doc, had been screwing with it, accidentally (or maybe not so accidentally) closed without saving MAJOR changes, just reopened and am back where I start with the POS (no longer a work in progress is is now a Piece Of $#it)

Trish - refraining from a stream of profanity at lots of lost effort...but as I said, maybe it needed to be sent to the morgue of bad poetry, so I will consider it DONE...[/QUOTE]

Billytwice
03-17-2006, 12:34 AM
As you're using MS Word check out the help files within it to help protect your work:

'The Document Recovery task pane allows you to open the files, view what repairs were made, and compare the recovered versions. You can then save the best version and delete the other versions, or save all of the open files to review later.

Additional file protection
You can further protect your work by using the AutoRecover feature to periodically save a temporary copy of the file you're working on. To recover work after a power failure or similar problem, you must have turned on the AutoRecover feature before the problem occurred. You can set the AutoRecover save interval to occur more frequently than every 10 minutes (its default setting). For example, if you set it to save every 5 minutes, you'll recover more information than if you set it to save every 10 minutes.

With AutoRecover on, if an Office program stops responding while you have files open, you can use the Microsoft Office Application Recovery dialog box and recovered files will be displayed in the Document Recovery task pane. The data in the files reflects the last time AutoRecover saved the files. AutoRecover should not be used as a substitute for manually saving or backing up your files.


Automatic Backup Copies

You can set Word to automatically save a backup copy each time you save a document. The backup copy provides you with a previously saved copy, so you have the current saved information in the original document and the information saved prior to that in the backup copy. Each time you save the document, a new backup copy replaces the existing backup copy. Saving a backup copy can protect your work if you accidentally save changes you don't want to keep or you delete the original file.'

The above is lifted from the help files within my copy of Word, hope you find it useful...Bill

p.s. Go to help in your version of word and type in 'autorecover' into the search field.