because starting poems is hard

For me, starting a poem at the beginning is entirely daunting, and something I have almost never done successfully. In other words, I struggle with both ending and beginning poems. Most of my poems tend to grow around themselves–I’ll think of an image or line that I’m really set on, and construct a poem off of that. The poetry exercises we do each week have actually been really helpful in pushing me to begin a poem without staring at my laptop or a notebook for an hour, entirely devoid of useful thought. Apparently what I was really missing was some sort of skeleton for my poems. (As someone a bit too interested in diagrams and maps and charts, I think in terms of shapes and order.) In being able to start by replacing images or words in poems from the reader, I’ve found that once I have a decent shape or skeleton to start with, I can write a poem inside of it without all the trouble of worrying about where to start or end. Over break, I hope to experiment with this a little more by writing my first drafts of poems inside of a shape or a silhouette, and then around the edges of a shape. I’m hoping this will help my uncertainty with where to start and end, but also push me to experiment more with line breaks and length, and white space.

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