Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Finding Inspiration

Inspiration, like a mustard seed, sprouts into thoughts begging for release. A poet then gathers words and phrases that bloom through concentrated reflection, waters them each day, forever pruning what becomes a poem. ~Laurie Kolp


Many people ask me where I find inspiration. I tell them it's everywhere, if they'd just take the time to notice; and in this busy, fast-paced world in which we live, that can be quite challenging. I'd like to share with you how I've become more aware of all the potential for poems I run into each day.

I'm reminded of how, as a second grade teacher, I used to take my kids on exploring walks (no talking allowed). The school where I worked had a park beside it with nature trails. I'd tell them to look, listen and list. They were like little scientists, notebook and pencils in hand. It was always near the end of the day on a day that had no end in sight; and every time we did this, the kids became more relaxed, and I received some much-needed peace.

As a poet, that's what I do. I look, listen and list. It can be outside all alone watching squirrels contort themselves to reach my bird feeders, or at the grocery store listening to a one-sided phone conversation while waiting in line. If I'm quiet, I can hear ideas popping through my mind (which also happens in the shower, more often times than not).

Memories and life experience also serve as inspiration for me. I'll scan through old photos which trigger something from my past I'd like to write about. Forgotten boxes in the garage do the same, or recalling conversations with parents and grandparents.

Sometimes I discover poems in old magazines and newspapers, books I'm reading or have read, crossword puzzle clues, horoscopes and fortunes from fortune cookies. I record the words or phrases for later use, either in a small notebook I carry in my purse, or on my phone.

All over the web there are poetry sites which provide prompts each week, allowing participants an opportunity to add links to their blogs so others can visit and read their new poems. I highly recommend this. Not only have I made some wonderful friends, I've made some wonderful connections. The feedback has helped me tremendously, as it is usually positive... and after a slew of rejections, it always boosts my morale and puts my focus back to where it should be: I write because I have something I need to say, and am doing it for ME, not an editor I don't even know.

Below is a list of suggested prompt sites. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO SHARE A POEM, but the topic might help inspire you to write something, right?        

On her blog, Word Gathering, Margo Roby compiles a Friday post that recaps all the week's topics at various sites, and she also provides original prompts and poetry tips.

Of course, reading and studying craft books help. I highly recommend:

The Crafty Poet: A Portable Workshop by Diane Lockward
Poet’s Market (Writer’

What about you? Where do YOU find inspiration? Please share in comments below.

Until next time,

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  1. Laurie, YOU always inspire me! Thank you for being such a good friend and mentor. I look forward to reading your book.

    1. Aww... thanks, Sylvia. I'll have some at the June 9 meeting.

  2. A lot of my blogger friends write inspirational blogs. Some photographers/ bloggers also post pictures of nature etc. which inspire me. Also people like you are inspirational beings. ( Please excuse me as I am trying to translate from Hindi).

    1. Thank you, Munir. Nature inspires me as well.

  3. Munir - thank you for the comment! Pictures are indeed a great source of inspiration, no matter our native language.