The lines we like define the lines we write

Near the beginning of the semester, we were asked what drew us to picking or liking a certain poem. I think what draws us to poetry says more about our poetry than the poem we picked. I’ve noticed over the semester that certain people get drawn to certain lines and certain ideas. Meghan is drawn in by scientific poems and insects. Jay appreciates line with effective white space. Chloe tends to like lines that are delicate and beautiful. You can see these individualized interests expressed in Meghan’s, Jay’s, and Chloe’s poems.

My favorite phrase this entire semester came from a poem, whose title I can’t remember, that Christy wrote: “moon ooze.” I’m unsure of why I latched onto those words. I think it could be that the sound is amazing. The soft m, long o’s, and z make the phrase sound languid and thick-syrup gorgeous. It could be the look of the words together. The double, double oo’s look nice in on page. Everything is nice and rounded save the z, which adds some “spice” to the mix. It might be the image of a dripping moon that I love. I really have no idea. I just know that I’m obsessed with this line, and I was never expecting to get this obsessed with any phrase. I figured I’d just go on casually liking phrases, but never committing to a favorite. Regardless of why I like the phrase, I’ve noticed its influence on my poems as I’ve assembled my portfolio. I tend to gravitate toward longer sounds. I also tend to pair words that have more of a sonic connection than a visual one.

I think that its’ fair to say that, when evaluating yourself as a poet, you can look toward the things that you’ve liked in other people’s poetry as a guide to what you’re doing. I came into the course without liking any sort of poetry, because I had only read people like Williams Carlos Williams and Emily Dickenson. Obviously, their fantastic poets, but their poems (at least the more famous ones that I read) didn’t fit my poetry style at all. Now that I’ve found poets who I feel more connected to, I feel like I’ve started to figure out who I am as a poet.

One Reply to “The lines we like define the lines we write”

  1. Hi Lizzie,

    Wow! I’m so happy to hear that a line from one of my poems has had such a inspiring effect on you. I completely agree with what you are saying about how we construct a large part of our poetic identity around where we find influence and connectedness. There is something so encouraging in finding a poet who has a similar style as you, something about this that assuages my own personal doubts as a poet. I think that one of the biggest parts of what inspires me when writing is meditating (both consciously and subconsciously) on the poets around me who I admire. I sometimes don’t even realize just how much I’ve been influenced by a particular poet until I’m in the midst of writing a poem and I realize “wait this looks exactly like that poem I just read by…”

    One of the things that I have really loved about this workshop is that we all admire different things in each other because we all read different things in each other’s poetry. I feel positively influenced and inspired by every single poet in this workshop in one distinct way, for instance: the ‘whispering’ quality to Jay’s poems, or the melancholic intensity of Carrie’s work. I also feel that throughout this process I am beginning to learn more about how to own my own identity as a poet.


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