Wednesday, May 8, 2013

poetry- you are not alone

As we continue to write poems in grade 8, I wanted to share a quick exchange with you, to remind you that you are not alone if you are frustrated or struggling. Here is an email I received from a grade 8 student last night:
Hi Mr. Raisdana,

I am sitting here and sitting here racking my brain with this poem..
In my mind i know how i could write this story, but i cannot get it from my head to the screen without being unhappy with it.

I dont think i am going to be able to have my draft done for tomorrow (i also didnt get home till very late tonight) But may i please talk to you tomorrow and discuss as to how i can 'make' this poem.

I was hoping poetry would come a little more naturally to me, as i enjoy this unit.. just struggling at the moment.

Really sorry
 Here is my response: 
Just bring what you have and we can workshop in class. This is what poetry is about. It can be hard and that is okay. It doesn't always come easily, even for the pros. It takes time, blood, sweat and tears. You are, after all, finding a way to reveal your soul and paint the world in a way no one has ever seen before. This shouldn't be easy.
Hack away at it and we will get there.....thanks for sending me the email. At least I can see that this poem is on your mind and that matters. It is in you and wants to come out, we just need to find a way to let it out.
Mr. R


  1. Is that ever the truth! It's the passion of a poem that makes it. Art has its own life, its own energy, its own existence. It takes a certain sensitivity to discover those bits of art that are living in you and want to get out. A great TED talk by Elizabeth Gilbert led me to think about creative moments differently:

  2. There is a dangerous myth out there. It is the same for poets, musicians and visual artists. It is the myth that the product (poem, photo, song, painting) comes in a blinding flash of inspiration and only bestows itself upon the artist that is "blessed with a gift." I shudder to imagine the amount of wonderful work that has never seen the light of day because of people holding onto this myth.

    Yes, there are moments like this for most artists, but it is cultivated by LOTS of hard work and struggle, NOT by the hand of god, or the breath of a muse, touching a chosen artist.

    What you are going through right now is the real struggle for the artist: Having a pressing need to express something so important to you that the form it must take always feels like it is lacking. So you have to work, and dig and pour things out. You'll fall short sometimes and find you have to settle for the best form you can find with the current skills you have. And other times you'll surprise yourself with a breakthrough and make something that is better than you could have possibly imagined.

    The good news is that you have the number one symptom of a strong poet/artist/musician. You have something so important to you that you are burning to give it the proper form to do it justice. Hang in there. Don't get too frustrated. Prepare to put in the hard work necessary and you'll eventually create something that you can be proud of.

  3. This is a great issue to address, and how brave of the student to email you and actually want to push through what has him/her blocked! That is commendable in itself. As a person who enjoys writing poetry, I usually find my writing process starting from one line or phrase and building the poem around that. I find that to tackle the entire poem at once is far too difficult a task, whereas taking one line or phrase that can sum up the theme or mood of the poem I want to write really helps me.

    Your thoughts and emotions are natural, which will make whatever you write natural and therefore poetic. Poetry doesn't need anything more than your truth to be expressed through YOUR words. Be true to yourself and express it honestly, and the result will be a poem made only by you.