It is a common practice for many beginning poets to keep a notebook for their own written poetry. In this creative conclave, you write ideas for future topics, phrases you want to remember, and experiments with different meters or diction. I propose that you keep a second one. In this notebook, young poets can “learn” inspiration as you record the poems you love the most. You might copy them from books or print them from the Internet . You can then copy or paste them into your notebook. Use this notebook to make notes, highlight ideas and even underline words that you like. Write about how the poems make you feel, what your first impression is, what kind of mental images you get when you read it and much more. This is the best way to really understand the poems and you can read back over your notes any time that you want.
As we mentioned, this same concept can be applied to the poems that you write yourself. You can also look for patterns and common themes. Do your most favorite poems all seem to have certain things in common? Do they all rhyme or have a specific rhythm to them? Are they all on similar topics? Do you prefer a certain writer’s style more than any other? The notebook is invaluable.
Keeping a notebook will help you understand yourself better as well. One well-known poet of whom I have always admired is Emily Dickinson. She lived from 1830-1886 and was a very solitary person, so much-so her works did not become published until after her death. She was a young woman just trying to describe life as she saw it. Most of the poetry that really made her a famous name was written before and during the Civil War period. She left behind scores of notebooks.
Dickinson was a person who was intrigued and inspired by poetry the same way that I have always been. As she wrote in a letter to a friend, “If I read a book [and] it makes my whole body so cold no fire can ever warm me, I know that is poetry. If I feel physically as if the top of my head was taken off, I know that is poetry. These are the only way[s] I know it. Is there any other way?”
I think when I read Dickinson’s poems, I feel the same passion she had for words, for Nature, for God, for Religion, and for death. You need to find writers and poets that make you feel this way and those are the ones you will most enjoy having in your notebook.
More: Poetry by Satish Verma (a little odd)
Miss McCulla is a retired English teacher of 32 years. She has Mastery of the grammar and mechanics of English, and has taught expository, fiction writing, and rhetorical skills to hundreds of students and aspiring writers throughout her career. She has written/edited/self-published five books, and currently manages a writing blog called The Underground Tutor where she gathers essays, articles, entries, papers, manuals, profiles, criticisms, analyses of literature, just like those asked of students and writers in the university and publisher houses, and years of “teacher tips” and “general interest examples,” and passes them on to interested writers.
For ideas on Writing your own poetry, click the blue links: The Rhythm of Poetry, Read Good Poetry to Write Better Poetry.
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