Written by Charlotte Stark
Each year Pride comes around, it feels natural to be retrospective and consider how far our writing practice and collective human journey has brought us towards justice for all. Depending on where you stand, you could feel we have never been closer, or that we are leagues away from the utopia many of us hoped to age into as adults. Longing for progress leaves your creativity well dry and can make all creative endeavors feel futile, even as the importance of art is doubly underscored when moving towards change. As we face the coming month and the perspective it brings annually, here are a few ways to keep your spirit whole and your pen busy.
This is my personal favorite for breaking down the barriers around production burnout. If you feel stuck in your own skin, try to access another population’s point of view. This can be as simple or as in-depth as you choose to make it. You might choose to research a cause that’s you know very little about, like sustainability, or activism. You may find that looking to experts, people on each end of the event spectrum, or even the voices of those most effected by pressing issues inspires you to create meaningful art.
Sometimes the best works are meaningful collaborations of a group of people. If you’re feeling like the art you’re making is aimless, using websites like Meetup to join writers in your area may be exactly what you need. New friends bring new perspectives and make a great sounding board when your workflow feels stagnant. Additionally, hearing about the projects of others can lead to inspiration in ways you may not foresee. It may also help to join support communities related to causes that are central to you. Having others to lean on who can guide and support you through the specific distress you feel can make all the difference between feeling passion for your work and going through the motions of productivity.
This advice can seem counter-intuitive – after all, if you feel you’re under performing when it comes to your writing practice, it seems like stepping away from your craft will only make matters worse. Taking a conscious, much needed, recharging break is a bit different from the inability to create when actively trying. During this time, you should seek out mediums that inspire you and use their practice to fulfill your usual practice times. Listen to music, play videogames, take long walks around your neighborhood and take in fresh details – whatever you know will fill the creative voids in your life. Set a concrete beginning and end date for your break, and resolve to attempt to create when the deadline comes. You will have a whole host of brand new experiences to bring to your desk with you.
When trying to keep tabs on the world as it turns, sensory overload can take over and paralyze our ability to assert ourselves and how we feel through art. It can be crushing to see fires burning on every corner and feel we’re holding a child’s beach pail to put it out with. When these moments come, consider looking at yourself rather than out at the world. This is not to say it’s best to disengage from reality or a society that needs us and our closely-held convictions, but that unhooking the connections to large events and taking time to look at ourselves, our writing practice, and what we hope to do with it can ground us. Consider what makes you write:
When you understand where your writing comes from, you can understand how best to reignite a lost spark directly at the source. Take time to ask yourself why you write and take note of your responses. It may be exactly what you need to decide which path to take next.
There is no substitute for you – not for your perspective, your voice, your experience, and your work. Burnout can kill the flow of creative process but it doesn’t have to stay that way. The world needs your art, and social progress only comes when society joins hands and steps out of the dark together. As we navigate the corporate pulls and cash grabs that can turn Pride from a relieving opportunity to see your community stand tall to a sales opportunity, use your art to remain un-jaded and continue to push forward. The world is waiting for you.
If you’re a writer looking for poetry tips, welcome to this Little River Poetry Fest blog post! Use the following to help begin your adventure into poetry:
One of the best ways to get started as an absolute beginner is to immerse yourself in the genre. If you think you’d like the classics, try works by Edgar Allan Poe, Emily Dickinson, or John Keats. If something a little more recent sounds interesting, try masterworks from Rupi Kaur, Maya Angelou, or Pablo Neruda. Sometimes just reading a wide swath of celebrated works can light the fire in your heart you need to write your own pieces.
If you read the pieces above, you probably noticed that many seem completely different from each other! There’s a lot of different types of poetry, and while many seasoned poets will tell you the rules of poetry are more like guidelines, it’s still a good idea to test out the bounds of the poetry you want to write. Check out this post from the Academy of American Poets with articles on 19 different forms of poetry!
While it can be a good idea to work within the bounds of poetry’s many forms, there’s no reason you need to feel constrained when it comes to your subject. Poetry doesn’t have to be about nature, feelings, or epic loves. Anything you can imagine that can be captured in writing can be poetry. For examples of poetry with unconventional subjects, read a few pieces by Shel Silverstein or Chaucer.
When all is said and done, even those celebrated poets with a knack for turning out beloved verses did not become legends overnight. The artistic process is full of scrapes and spills, and is more like a lifetime well lived than a single journey with an ultimate destination. Give yourself time and space to experiment with new forms, write what moves you, and explore this whole new branch of creativity without spending too much time worry about the “right” way to write. Every step forward, no matter how shaky or small, is still progress.
There was a lot of poetry reading at the Little River Poetry Festival, but there was also plenty of writing as well…
Check out the poems left on the poetry board in the tent!
Haiku on the River by Dave King
With wind-shaped branches,
from afar, tranquility,
how fond illusion!
Untitled by James Bane
Capture scenes as they happen
with ink, before the sound
and colors flit away.
Meadow Haiku by Judith Stevens
Mown grass beckons me.
A gathering of poets
and the river waits…
Two Haiku by Eva Poggi
Little rivers make
big reflections of free souls.
Songs of life for free –
making music from the trees
Living through all birds!
Hollywood Geography by Brian Magill
Pine barrens a mile from A.C.
Jersey devil waltzes into town
Norfolk only hour from D.C.
Virginia Beach full of palms
and cliffs overlooking waves.
Odd how everywhere
resembles B.C. or L. A.
Poem by Eileen Niemi
You can’t hide your heart
Because living water washes
Until everything is clear.
Flapping Towards Freedom by Emagery
More simple, the more
nature heals me.
Poetry fest is an escape for me.
Already more free,
in these mountains
working towards stress-free.
Today, it doesn’t matter who
did what to me,
like these birds taking in
the breeze under lifted wings.
I lift my wings,
I sing the song of Maya’s caged bird.
Flapping is freedom.
Lifted wings, flapping towards freedom.
Protest Poem by Jack Callan
As my hike descended
to the lower hills of farm,
before the light faded,
I felt a presence.
Blackberry radar told me
dark, subtle would follow me
further down, if I went,
and I might now make it out.
So I stopped
to record my poem
before I could be eaten, so that
my last words, penned in tribute,
to the lord of this realm, would remain.
I ate no blackberries, walked out backwards,
made my retreat without incident,
grateful to have met my silent assassin
on his terms, yet live.
He was dead in a week:
one arrow from a strong bow
meant for a deer in bow-hunting season. Three hundred fifty pounds.
He was beautiful, pure, worthy of eating me,
For months, his magnificent pelt haunted me,
casually covering my friend’s front porch floor.
Something in me protested
a taking I could not fully understand, and
I found I missed my fear and all its dimensions,
from childhood time in dream: nightmare,
pursued, but never caught –
Then, finally free, one day,
to eat blackberries.
Poetry on the River by Judith Stevens
(an Ekphrastic poem, written while paddling down The Little River)
Turtle rock slumbers; morning birdsong beckons.
The river burbles an invitation.
Goodbye, tent. Goodbye, meadow.
Our sturdy kayaks dot the wide expanse of water –
bright, multicolored petals floating downstream,
poet-paddlers hunched over their notebooks.
Butterfly hops the bank – a splotch of yellow, trimmed in black.
Mud swallows dart into grasses lining riverbank.
Who lives in these intricate burrows? (Muskrat and otter)
Prehistoric rocks jut forward, taking huge bites of river.
Holy silence envelopes us, folds us close
as seven poets negotiate notebooks, pens, paddles.
An occasional boulder startles us from our reverie.
Mourning dove tolls the hour; tiny bugs skate beside us.
Queen Anne’s Lace nods encouragement as we pass.
The sounds of the river –
whispering, chanting,murmuring –
healing songs of praise steal inside us
Rhododendron forest tiptoes to the water, dips its toes.
We follow a sky-blue trail
to the ancient glacier overhang,
ride the rope to completion.
Queen Anne bows her head in silent benediction.KEEP READING