Picture a tea kettle. It’s boiling, but not yet whistling. Steam tumbling from the spout and fogging up the hood of the stove.
There’s a poem in that.
I’m laughing at myself, because it’s something I say nearly every day to fellow poets. “You should write a poem about it!” And, actually, I have neglected to take my own advice.
Our class this week reminded me that even though I find them mundane or of little significance to my writing, the little things that make up my everyday experience are sometimes the hidden greatest pockets of inspiration.
A common piece of advice flows in and out of almost all of the writing classrooms I have been a part of: write what you know. Suddenly, I’m looking at this in a different light. I have always thought of this phrase as relating to what interests you, what experiences you have had, what background you come from. The truth is, though, it can be both that definition and this new one I’m starting to really enjoy. I know my tea kettle really well. Down to the scratches on the side from packaging it up in a cardboard box to transition from a dorm to an apartment. How the white measurements have rubbed off up to the 1.0 liter mark and how after I empty it, the metal frame makes a clicking sound as it cools. I use this kettle every day. I’m sure it holds a poem for me, or for you.
Right now, I’d like to leave you with two questions. The first: how do you interpret the “write what you know” phrase? The second: what is some advice you give to other writers that you would want to give also to yourself?