As my to-do list get longer this time of year, writing often seems to take a back seat. I admit my creativity gets squeezed and shoved to the bottom of the sack, sometimes covered over with ribbons and bows, stuck on tape and tags and bits of glitter. Can I blame my muse for wanting to take a long holiday nap?
Wallace Stevens noted, “…the arts are a compensation for what has been lost.” And isn’t poetry all about finding things? Discovering and “uncovering” the unseen around us? For the ekphrastic poet, finding the truth and beauty and voice in the painting he beholds? Derek Walcott puts it beautifully: “The body feels it is melting into what it has seen, the I not being important.”
To help us awaken and uncover our creative genie — our given gift, our vocation (as Derek Walcott believes) — enjoy this fascinating short clip by Elizabeth Glibert (Eat Pray Love). And not to be missed, listen as she recalls an encounter with the extraordinary poet Ruth Stone explaining how Ruth gets her inspiration! (10:20 on the video).
What Inspires Writers? (click on names to read more at Poets and Writers magazine)
Leigh Stein ”For years, I’ve found inspiration by going to museums by myself. Going solo is key. —Leigh Stein, author of Dispatch From the Future (Melville Books, 2012)
Jon Raymond “I draw a lot of inspiration from visual art….some through their conceptual frameworks and others through very specific little details I’ve stolen—a coiled garden hose or a cursive tire tread that becomes part of a scene. There’s something about a visual image that both focuses the mind and frees it to wander, and the artists who help me most—people like Robert Adams, Ed Ruscha, and Chris Johanson, to name a few—guide me into landscapes of thought and feeling I might not find on my own.” —Jon Raymond, author of Rain Dragon (Bloomsbury, 2012)
Peter Heller “All my good writing comes out of vulnerability…. I am terribly vulnerable to nature and I love to fish. …If I can’t fish I read the poets of the late Tang—Li Po, Wang Wei, Li Shang Yin. They can put me there in a moment, knee-deep in a stream, up in the tearing clouds of the mountains. They are aficionados of loss, and they make me feel vulnerable and stricken and full of joy. That is a good place to write from.” —Peter Heller, author of The Dog Stars (Knopf, 2012)
Kate Hill Cantrill “…visual creations often inform my descriptions, characters, and topics. Years ago I was thrilled to learn that one of my favorite writers, Elizabeth Bishop, had also painted, and I received a book of these paintings titled Exchanging Hats. They are spirited, loving homages to scenes and spaces of her life, including a whimsical ‘E. Bishop’s Patented Slot Machine’ that makes me giggle every time I look at it and reminds me to try to add a bit of play into everything I create.” —Kate Hill Cantrill, author of Walk Back From Monkey School, (Press 53, 2012)
Rosie Dastgir “The thing that inspires me in my writing is chatting with my friends about family relationships. …I find myself compelled by the bizarre and terrible stories at the heart of families…” —Rosie Dastgir, author of A Small Fortune (Riverhead Books)
Natalie Serber “….one of my favorite painters is Mark Rothko. His colorscapes offer me a place of ease. I don’t question and wonder and strive to make a story when I stand in front of a Rothko, I just absorb and rest.” —Natalie Serber, author of Shout Her Lovely Name (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012)
Love to Hear: How do you get your inspiration? Does it arrive like a train or a mule or a divine dance? Feel free to share!