Fixations in Poetry

Okay, so before I signed up for Poetry, I knew a lot of poets had certain ‘obsessions’ that they tended to write about or get ‘fixated’ on. Perhaps because of my incredibly short attention span I didn’t, in a million years, think I would be one of those poets. After all, how can you fixate on something if you can’t even sit through a 20-minute episode of Parks and Rec without getting distracted by something?

Then came the jellyfish. I swear, I don’t have some sort of weird history with jellyfish. As far as I can remember, I’ve never even been stung by one. But they’re so interesting! One day, I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed and one of those, probably-spam, annoying buzfeed-but-not-buzfeed articles popped up–titled something along the lines of, “21 Weird Facts That Will Shock and Amaze You.” I, having a short attention span, got distracted by the jellyfish photo attached to the article and clicked on the probably-spam/site covered in random ads link.

And there, on my computer scrren, was the fact about the turritopsis dohrnii jellyfish being immortal.

I mean, seriously, what other creature out there has the ability to revert itself to sexual immaturity after growing old? And are completely see-through? And are just kind of floating, gelatinous balls of water and skin and tentacles?

Since then, I’ve had an odd fixation on jellyfish. They’ve shown up in several of the poems I’ve written for class, and I’m currently working on a nonfiction piece about the freakin’ things. (Also, we’re reading Lia Purpura’s On Looking collection for Lyric Essay, and she tends to fixate on jelllyfish imagery throughout the collection–coincidence much?)

Okay, so maybe I’m a little weird. But what about you guys? Do you have certain things that you fixate on in your poetry? And how did you first stumble across that fixation?


5 Replies to “Fixations in Poetry”

  1. Hey Katie,

    Not sure how deep you’ve been into that Wikipedia article, but for you and everyone else here is a video of the only scientist who has kept these jellyfish alive in captivity, Shin Kubota, singing a song about them:

    It’s a shame there are no English subtitles, otherwise you could steal some lines or be inspired by them, although his passion for the jellyfish is clear and inspiring even through the language barrier. Clearly they are a fixation for him in science and in art.

    If I’ve achieved nothing else with this comment I hope I’ve gotten across that you’re not alone in your fixation with Turritopsis dohrnii.

    1. Thanks for the link, Robbie! I read the info about this guy on Wikipedia, but this is the first time I’ve seen a video of him. I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one strangely obsessed with jellyfish!

  2. YES! I definitely do have some things that I continuously become fixated in my poems. I think for me it’s the language used in my poems. I tend to gravitate towards whimsical language (for whatever reason), and after first drafts of my pieces I always want to bang my head against a wall. I feel like I become so dramatic in my writing that I get lost in what even makes sense sometimes!

    I’m nervous about the poem I just posted for this week! I feel like, yet again, I got too carried away and just wrote dramatic nonsense that will make everyone scratch their heads in confusion. This is definitely something I’m trying to break out of continuously doing!

  3. I’m the worst at fixating on things! For me it usually is an image or a line and I just try and fit it into every poem I write until I can find the right home for it in my writing, but until then it drives me mad with the possibility of being able to put it in something to make it work. As for topic fixations, I definitely write too much in my own comfort zone, about things that I know and have written about many times before (i.e. poems about health) but am consciously trying to break that at least with the weekly exercise poems; I actually ended up writing one of those about the excitement of Christmas mornings which was pretty new territory considering I’m Jewish and have never actually experienced that excitement.

    That got slightly off topic, but I guess where I was headed was just that for myself to stay sane when it comes to my writing fixations, I need to work on finding the perfect home for it while simultaneously forcing myself to not only write about that one thing!

  4. Well last year it was all about that food. *Cue song* Also there was a lot of the color red which I didn’t really understand why. I just had many shades of red too. But this year I found myself gravitating towards water and the color purple. I don’t intend it but while I was putting together my submission for the Sigma Tau Delta convention, I noticed that these types of images kept popping up in my poems. It was completely unintentional but it’s interesting how my poetic obsession changed from last year to this year. Also there was a lot of body imagery last year as well as this year so that has remained a constant.

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