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.
By Star LaBranche
When I arrived at the Little River Poetry Festival in 2017, I was so mentally blocked, I thought I would never write again. I had just finished my chapbook, Wake Me When It’s Over, which I read at the festival. I thought, this is it. I’ve written everything I can possibly ever write. I was ready to pack up my pens and my Scrivener files and call it a day.
But poetry inspiration doesn’t work like that. If there’s one thing that inspires me a great deal it’s other poets. I love to read poetry in my spare time and see how others have manipulated words and phrases. See how they put together their stanzas and format their couplets. As the festival moved into James’ workshop called, The Sudden Left Turn, I realized I had thrown myself a sudden left turn. I had written a chapbook about my life and where I was emotionally and mentally, but I left out any hint of where I was with romantic relationships. Something I have always struggled with.
Immediately, I started writing. When we got to the Floyd Friend’s Meetinghouse I wrote about 8 poems in one sitting. These 8 poems formed the basis of what became my next chapbook, Racing Toward Red Lights. I digitally published the chapbook later that year.
It just goes to show that you never know when poetry inspiration will strike you. But one thing is for sure; being around creative people can definitely help kickstart your ideas and help you to get them down on paper. I’m looking forward to the Little River Poetry Festival in 2018 for a lot of reasons. But one of them is definitely that I would love to write another chapbook like I did there. When you have a great idea and the writing flows from you, it’s an incredibly powerful experience. Almost like the poems write themselves.
Poetry was all around at the festival and it inspired poetry in turn. Here are some of their writings, inspired by the festival surroundings and the workshops they went to.
The muse walks the meadow
bare feet scraping through the dew
sky blue as a loved one’s eyes
in the wren’s song
the voice lost
into the light.
Sun sparkles on river’s rushing beck
swallows circle the dark cliffs
and a cardinal sings.
Suddenly the day
falls into a present
of a sky blue as wonder.
The river rushes away
as Jack wades back to us.
I left my blood on Buffalo Mountain –
washed the wound in the spring
as swallows chased yellow butterflies
across the road.
It’s all good.
Wandering down the dim aisles
of the antique store,
I find a collection of cobalt stemware
he would have loved,
and a book of photos –
Margaret would have opened
the minute it was put in her hands.
I leave the items on their shelves –
their new houses need no possessions.
Summer is here,
the grass is green,
(and this field is equipped
with a high-tech latrine!)
Birding with Sarah
Bidental voiceless fricative
labiodental voiced fricative
bilabial voiceless stop
Thank you, Sarah!
(from the Rondelet Workshop)
That’s who you are!
A relaxing wave from the heart.
That’s who you are!
An endless poem written down,
a world that needs to speak it.
A full universe opens up.
That’s who you are.
We come together
in the blue-striped tent where
kindness, poetry rule.
Float down the river,
mind your p’s and q’s, but write
a good kayak poem.
There is magic here!
See how love and poetry
knits us together.
The skunk on Route Eight
for the stink rebate!
cook the books,
armed to the teeth
with anger issues.
My wife and I
are on either ends
of the house,
When tent is empty,
field is dark.
Jack takes over the electric thoughts
who, he himself, has had a few –
like remembrances of black vulture wings
(knowing they are a couple,
though might not kiss as much as we),
and though the peepers have given
false signals in the constricted Spring,
it bodes well for a romantic walk.
in the cacophony of slimy things,
ourselves not included,
but hey, it’s only just begun,
and since the woods will always remember us,
we will return, united, excited, and all the rest…