When Poems Form
At the writing group I went to recently, I asked the organizer there, Phil, how he begins when he writes a new poem. He said he takes walks a lot, and always has. And as he does, he comes upon a question he has asked himself- it’s a question he has asked of himself before birth, a question that has always been within him and that only he can answer. And he always carries around a piece of paper in order to write down a few words as they come to him, which he explores further later. I found that answer to be very intriguing, honest and true.
This past March at the Strand Bookstore, I attended a poetry reading featuring Dan Chelotti and Yusef Komunyakaa.
When Dan Chelotti was asked this question (how he begins a poem), he told a story about when he was a kid in school and he made it his mission to read every Stephen King novel. When he was starting one of the novels, it began with a quote from the poem, The Wasteland by T.S. Elliot. I wish I could remember which novel it was, but he said that reading that quote made such an impression on him that his new mission became dedicating himself to writing a poem every night.
When Yusef Komunyakaa was asked the same question about how poems emerge, he said an image or a phrase usually starts a poem for him. They both spoke about obsessions, and how it can be worthwhile to write “towards” them. I enjoy poetry readings that allow for discussion afterwords, and especially a Q & A session with the poets themselves.
This was the blurb for the event:
The First of Three Readings In Celebration of the 10th Anniversary of the Poetry Society Chapbook Fellowship with Yusef Komunyakaa and Dan Chelotti
March 28: 7:00PM – 8:00PM
Come to the first installment in a series of three readings/discussions celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Poetry Society Chapbook Fellowship. Join us as former chapbook winner poet Dan Chelotti author of x reads alongside the distinguished Pulitzer Prize winning poet who chose him, Yusef Komunyakaa.