Sunday, May 15, 2011


 Definition of inspiration from The Free Dictionary
a. Stimulation of the mind or emotions to a high level of feeling or activity.
b. The condition of being so stimulated.
2. An agency, such as a person or work of art, that moves the intellect or emotions or prompts action or invention.
3. Something, such as a sudden creative act or idea, that is inspired.
4. The quality of inspiring or exalting: a painting full of inspiration.
5. Divine guidance or influence exerted directly on the mind and soul of humankind.
6. The act of drawing in, especially the inhalation of air into the lungs.
 What inspires poetry? For everyone who writes a poem the inspiration is different. There are those universal inspirations or themes love, loss, beauty, happiness, life, death and birth. Some days these inspirations are too big for me. Some days I don't feel much  happening in these areas. On those days I try to write a poem about a tree or the sky. I look outside me (writing from the outside in)and I can  find words or a few sentences about  a feeling or how something looks or a certain inner dissatisfaction or disappointment but the poem goes nowhere. I have nothing to say. Whatever I saw did not inspire me enough. The poem fizzled. When this happens I might look for a poetry prompt online or write my own. A few lines nothing. I finally realize like a teacher of mine said, sometimes the field needs to remain fallow. So I read  poetry. In this particular dry spell  I've been reading fiction. No threat there. I am not reading a poem hoping my absentee muses will reappear to inspire me. 
 In my recent month or so of feeling totally uninspired I've been reading fiction. I've finished reading Kalfka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami. This book was published in 2005. I haven't written a poem related to the reading of this book (yet) but I can tell you this author inspired me.

"Murakami is an aficionado of the drowsy interstices of everyday life, reality's cul-de-sacs, places so filled with the nothing that happens in them that they become uncanny: hallways, highway rest stops, vacant lots. Although the dreamlike quality of his work makes the film director David Lynch his nearest American counterpart, Lynch's palette is primarily nocturnal while Murakami's welcomes the noontime sun. No one is better at evoking the spookiness of midday in a quiet neighborhood when everyone is at work.
A lot of things happen in Murakami's novels, but what lingers longest in the memory is this distinctive mood, a stillness pregnant with . . . what? Some meaning that's forever slipping away. The author achieves this effect by doing everything wrong, at least by Western literary standards. Over the years, his prose has become increasingly, and even militantly, simple. Although Murakami is both an admirer and a translator of Raymond Carver, this simplicity isn't the semaphoric purity of American minimalism. Partisans of the beautiful sentence will find little sustenance here."

 From the New York Times review of Kalfka on the Shore by Laura Miller. Read the rest at

To me the story of Kalfka on the Shore is poetry and philosophy, evolutionary history and Greek tragedy. I felt suspended in time where time was held hostage didn't move and also where time became urgent, time was running out, a time portal to change Kalfka's fate would close soon. Dreams, alternate realities, fish falling from the sky, talking cats, murder, lost soldiers from WW II who had not aged stuck in a forest time warp, free will vs fate, big questions woven into this strange dreamlike  novel set in contemporary Japan. This novel opened  or stimulated  my "mind or emotions to a high level of feeling or activity." Defintion 1
What it did was take me into another reality, the journey of Kalfka Tamura  a 15 year old  who ran away from home and an old man Nakata who is challenged by an old  head injury. He says he is not too smart but he is magical.  These two characters are drawn together in the end of the story to change reality playing their pre-ordained roles. Lives end, others begin. Time moves on.

No poem yet but I can feel one forming. I think the lesson for me when experiencing a dry spell in writing a poem, is to let the field remain fallow yet plant the seeds of future growth. In my case this time the seeds are reading fiction.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Massachusetts Poetry Festival May 12 -14 - Salem Massachusetts

  • The Massachusetts Poetry Festival – a unique 2 day gathering of poets and poetry lovers from across the Commonwealth for readings, workshops, panels, concerts, a small press fair and more
  • Taking poetry to people: we sponsor poets to work in schools, senior centers, prisons and communities.
  • Assisting more readers to read and reconnect with poetry
  • Working with teachers to assist them to work with poetry in the classroom
  • Creating a central information center for poets and poetry readers and lovers to find reading series, workshops, MFA programs, and other resources
  • Building a robust website to support all of these activities
  • Linking together all the dispirit strands of the Massachusetts poetry community to promote more collaboration, respect and communication
  •  Read the rest at  about  at