A Poet's Double Life

For poets working outside the literary world.

Finding Inspiration


When I started writing, words poured out of me as if drawn up from some unknown emotional well deep inside. Poems flooded the pages, but it wasn’t until much later that I considered myself a poet instead a failed novelist. My emotional state directed the content of my writing: feelings of love, loss, and longing became the heart of the poems. Here’s an example:

I miss our magic

I miss the way your kisses taste like kisses are supposed to taste

I miss those four moles that form a constellation on your face

I miss the way you look at me and stare into my soul

I miss the easiness I feel when you take control

I miss you

Even though I’m not supposed to

Fast forward to Vermont College of Fine Art’s low-residency MFA program. For two years, I wrote 3-6 poems every month. I didn’t have the luxury to wait for the Muse to rifle through all the emotional boxes in the attic. I had to take inspiration wherever I could find it, even from the view of the old location of Chapel Hill Public Library:

Here is where I connect

to the essence of everything unfolding.

Here is where I witness

how life stripped down can be just as full.

But I already see buds forming on the leaning maple.

Soon an abundance of green will block the view outside.

(excerpt from Pritchard Park)

Now everything I see, touch, taste, hear, or smell can inspire a poem. The poems I wrote at Cave Canem ran the gamut of topics: my brother, my father’s death, unrequited office romance, professional development, berry picking, and the transit of Venus. Lately, I’ve inspired by photographs and movies like this one:

You were loose once

and then a mysterious

finger twirled you

around itself. You begged

for the ride to stop

and when it did, the middle

and thumb used you to strum

their pain. And now the ring

finger pulls you ever so

gently to your edge.

Fearing you will snap

at any moment, you beg

for the all-powerful hand

to release you and scream

when you reach your limit.

But then the pinky

hooks and stretches you

just a little more,

just to prove you wrong.

Images are a good starting point for expressing an idea connected to something I have observed or experienced. It is my job to find the words to let you, the reader, see this snippet of the world through my eyes.

Author: poetsdoublelife

Poet and strategy/data guru living in Massachusetts.

4 thoughts on “Finding Inspiration

  1. Pingback: Finding Poetry « A Poet's Double Life

  2. Pingback: City-Inspired Poetry « A Poet's Double Life

  3. Pingback: Poetry Prompts « A Poet's Double Life

  4. Pingback: Three-Minute Poem: Winter Solstice « A Poet's Double Life

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