Monday, April 26, 2010

Inspiration and Ideas: A Poet's Take

Prolific poet Doris Henderson, author of the poetry collection What Gets Lost, has been published in various literary journals and anthologies. She also has three chapbooks: Transformations, Leaving the Plaza and Distances. This week, she discusses the role and sources of inspiration in writing.

AA: What's the role of inspiration in poetry?

DH: Inspiration in writing — certainly it plays a major role. Poets don't plan their work by figuring it out logically ahead of time. It has to be spontaneous, at least in the first draft. Sometimes it comes from memories — moments from childhood, recollections of one's relatives. I see my grandfather sitting with his visiting "little sister," drinking homemade elderberry wine and reminiscing about their past life in Italy, by the hour, completely transported, as though their present life didn't exist at all.

AA: Poets often an original perspective and approach to writing? Where does that come from?

DH: Another approach is to have a different "take," or point of view, on an ordinary experience, like pulling weeds, and it suddenly occurs to you that we are intruding on their territory, not the other way around. What are they thinking? "In June the heather weed and Queen Anne's lace blow their heady fumes. They long to put us all to sleep for just a century or two, with all the engines rusting in the field, sweet William, tiny buttercups sprouting from broken hub caps, wild grass over the dirt-blown roadway, sunflowers over the plate glass windows at the mall..."

Visit Doris Henderson at Antrim House Books. Also visit the Academy of American Poets for more information on this creative genre.

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