The Spoken Word Poem
As we all know, there are two aspects necessary to make art—Perspective & Imagination.
Excellent! Because that means, the job of every artist is to develop their capacity to see and hear. I love this viewpoint, because it gives me a good excuse to sit and stare at, or into, subjects for long periods of time. It also means I have space to explore, experiment and play freely, no questions asked.
Sidebar: Never under-estimate how much energy it takes to observe—it's actually hard work.
Back to the Spoken Word poem.
The initial writing of every poem is similar—as the ideas flow. After that, in the next draft, everything changes.
When you’re writing and developing a poem you plan to orate, there are other aspects that come into play—sound, rhythm, music, images, voice, intonation, improvisation, et cetera. There is the innate knowledge that you will present the poem in front of a live audience.
First Thought—Best Thought
The concept of, "first thought - best thought," was handed down to me by many of my teachers—including Di Prima, Waldman, Ginsberg, and Maunsell. At first, I rolled my inner eye-balls at the idea, but as time passed, I grew to appreciate and discover new levels of its meaning.
Write the words "first thought—best thought," at the top of a blank page, before you start writing. In addition, this will remind you to get out of the way of yourself which in turn will move you into your imagination—without judgement.
Drink the Passion Juice
"Writing's a Passionate Act - Deep from the Fire Within."-SD Wilson
It's been said that the pen's mightier than the sword, and I concur. Writing’s a heroic act—especially in those times when the muse strikes, and you're called upon to write with wild abandon, fierce and true—trusting yourself as you free fall—impassioned.
Sidebar: This also applies to writing peaceful introspection, especially when creating a serene scenario—'cause that's when you must approach ideas with such passion, your readers experience the burn of your imagery in the embers of your words—impassioned.
So the question is: What turns you on... devastates you... levels you... electrifies you... moves you to tears... makes your hair stand on end?
My teachers said, "you must love what you're writing with all your being." They said, "even if you despise the subject, you must love the act of writing it." Micki Maunsell, one of my most profound teachers, called it "limerence."
Make a list.
What are you passionate about? What moves your heart? What makes you furious? What brings you to your knees? What do you see in the rain? What do you want to change? What gets your goat? What do you authentically love with grounded truth, in light and shadow, with grit under your finger nails, and electricity in your hair?
Creativity & Fragility — Synonymous
Handle yourself and your work with care! After you initially blaze onto the page, it's usually a good idea to give the work time to breathe.
Although we express with a flame of passion—we must also recognize the fragility of the work. To honor it, and ourselves, we must give it a wide berth. This is sometimes hard because we want to continue in the creative vein. At this point we run the risk of strangling the work. The work is very fragile!
Which is why, it's a good idea to let the work breathe—so the piece can gather the strength it needs for the next phase. This also allows you to do more research and to discover the work on other levels. At this point I sometimes discover what the writing is really about, so I know what new directions to take.
“Writing's a Fragile Act—Handle it with Care.”-SD Wilson
Images — Images — Images
"Images are your best friend, your confidant & your lover!"-SD Wilson
Images are the:
- element that bring your writing to life
- component that your reader or listener will hold onto
- link to opening the imagination
- dynamic that moves your piece forward
- device that you can use as a performer (much more on this later)
- trick that will take your audience to place and space
- means to clear communication
After you've finished the first draft of a poem, take a look at the piece and ask yourself "what it is about?" Then, look at it line-by-line. In the margin write '=' and jot down the first image that comes to your mind. See what happens.
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Sheri-D Wilson, D. Litt, C.M.
Sheri-D Wilson (aka The Mama of Dada) is the award-winning author of 12 books, the creator of 4 short films, and has released 3 albums which combine music and poetry.
Every fortnight, I send out a free blog post with my best tips to inspire you to write/tell your own story, and to suggest ways for you to present your words with confidence and panache.