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On writing poetry

The poem at the end of this post is the first note I ever wrote on Facebook. It's from Nov. 10, 2010. I used to take walks around my old neighborhood in Chicago Ridge, Ill. quite often, and I recall that the inspiration for this poem came from one of those walks, as I noted at the bottom of the poem.

When I took a creative writing class in college, our professor had us go out on campus and take 20 minutes to write a poem. It forced me to give up thinking and just go with what I was feeling. Poetry should come from the heart. So often times in life we use our heads, and that is definitely needed, but poetry is meant to open up our hearts as well as our minds.

I read an awful lot of Allen Ginsberg, E.E. Cummings, Elizabeth Bishop, and studied song lyrics from artists such as Bob Dylan, The Beatles, and Jim Morrison when I was writing my poetry book 20 Something. Poems like Allen Ginsberg's "Howl" opened up my eyes to a whole new way of thinking and feeling writing that I never saw before.

The opening line in "Howl" reads, "I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,". It makes use of free verse, stream of consciousness writing that was characteristic of Beatnik poetry. It was the opposite of the restricted sonnet form made popular by William Shakespeare or the concise haiku poems. Those poems are beautiful in their own right, but it was the contemporary poems that spoke to me at the time, the ones that opened my heart and ignited a future of writing that stands to this day.

Poetry, music, film, or any art form should make you feel something first and foremost. And poetry is as complex as that and as simple as that. Not all poetry is good. But if you speak from the heart, that is half the battle.

The poem below is not the best poem in the world, but I think you can see that I captured a moment in time and took that moment and made it mine. That particular walk opened my heart to all of these divine emotions and I let those emotions type out on the computer. Not everyone will be a good writer. It is a craft. It takes practice and patience and work. But it opens you up to a world you never thought possible if you only listen to your heart.

Without further ado, here is the first post I ever wrote on Facebook:

Walking in God's art studio Oh God! I saw you painting my neighborhood tonight From your hammock crescent moon Your pink streaks that mirrored hawk’s feathers greeted me in the west Airplanes flew high, that looked like shooting stars in the east, Piercing the sky high, leaving their powdery white tails against your Carolina Blue canvas Oh God! The Golden leaves of the ol’ Oak tree pierce the darkening sky like the setting sun What colors are you adding now? Blotting out the pink and adding purple tones? Do you add the same tones inside us as our mood changes Are our canvases ever changing? And as this neighborhood changes from blue to pink to purple to black Another you add black to purple to pink to blue While your canvases all seem similar on the surface, no two are alike Oh God! I can’t wait to see what you paint tomorrow Inspiration: From walking out in beautiful November weather in my neighborhood at sunset

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