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March 18, 2012 / Rae Spencer

Inspiration and Happy Accidents

This crocus is a bit late because it had to penetrate the husks of last year’s ginger lilies. Most of my poems happen like this, sprouting in the dark. Pale, nebulous tendrils of urgency. A few die in this phase, too weak to persevere. Others toughen in time, burrowing through sheaves of revision. They emerge with varying degrees of definition and emphasis. The best ones bloom.

One of my recent poems followed a much different course.

A few days ago, I watched part of a program about ancient gods. The segment dealt with Medusa. Later in the day, unable to get Medusa off my mind, I googled her. I chose the first link, which was Wikipedia. Then I clicked another link, and another, and another, straying through topics that eventually had nothing to do with Medusa. I tired of links before I tired of reading, and my mouse wandered into a cache of poetry bookmarks. I soon landed on the vox poetica prompts page.*

The current prompt reverberated for me. Until that moment, my rambling Medusa research had yielded only a vague field of oscillating ideas. The photo collapsed it into a poem particle, which coalesced, with very little input on my part, into “Ceto, in Decline, Calls Out to Medusa”. It’s the rarest type of poem, in my world. One that writes itself and requires only fidgety revisions to clarify meaning and capitalize on sound. (It will remain posted on the prompts page until the prompt changes.)

I’m always delighted by creations, like the Medusa poem, that occur as random accidents. Like this robin photo, which was a mistake, a miscalculation of light that produced an image I could never have planned. I’m happy to live in such a world, where serendipity matters.

* If you aren’t familiar with vox poetica, I recommend setting aside some time to explore. Publisher Annmarie Lockhart is a tireless advocate for poetry and poets. Her website is a treasure. There’s a new poem every day, an archived poemblog, links to her blog talk radio show, and a number of different ways to contribute. If you write poetry, why not submit something?

3 Comments

  1. Betty Hayes Albright / Mar 18 2012 8:09 PM

    Rae, I love it when poems happen that way. It’s a sort of serendipity, and the resulting poem that often writes itself is magical! Thanks for sharing your writing experience with us. (It’s what I love about writing – ALL of it is magic, no matter where it comes from – or how. 🙂 )

  2. bardessdmdenton / Mar 20 2012 2:10 PM

    I love the way you likened poetry creation to the way the crocus had to push its way up from the dark and through the ‘obstacle’ of the husk.

    Thanks for sharing your lovely and enjoyable writing and pictures! And I will be checking out vox poetica asap.

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