Miss Pelican's Perch

Looking at my World from a Different Place

Ars Poetica


I was pushed to think about poetry today — my poetry specifically.  Now there may be some poetry-haters reading this, and before you groan, close your browsers and take cover, just hear me out.

When I took that first hesitant step into writing “creatively” (rather than spewing out endless college research papers and essays), for some reason I started with poetry.  I never liked reading poetry, but the first time I heard poetry recited I fell in love with it.  I had the opportunity to hear Maya Angelou recite her Still I Rise and she moved me to tears.  I knew then that there was power in poetry.  It was then I started writing poetry and posting it on my long-ago static website.

No one seemed particularly impressed with my poetry — or at least I thought so since most people made no comment and looked decidedly embarrassed when I asked them about it.  After a while I stopped writing poetry altogether.  I knew I would never be anything like a Maya Angelou.

But my foray into writing poetry was not a waste of time.  Writing poetry taught me how to carefully choose my words.  It taught me about rhythm, imagery, and metaphor.  I taught me that all writing, like poetry, bubbles up from inside.  I learned that I may have a particular goal in mind when I begin to write, but when the muse takes over, my writing may end up somewhere else.

I am not sorry that I was a mediocre.  From that experience, I learned how to be a competent story writer.

Here is a poem about writing poetry that I wrote about sixteen years ago.  It may not be great; but I like it.

ARS POETICA I: How to Write a Poem

Poems, like gangs, take over the beach at dark.
It’s not safe, I’m told, to go down there.
But to learn to write a poem, I am going this morning,
in Spring when clouds, thick like pudding, hug
chilled, wet sand and the quiet feels like padding on a wall.

I sprawl on the sand, feet pointing towards the surf,
lacy green foam washing poem-matter over me,
coaxing words whispered in a hesitant ear,
each wave’s fondle hiding a fatal undertow.
Then I realize: I am not safe here.


 Daily Post Challenge

LJG (c)  2013.   Ars Poetica originally written in 1997, recast in 1999

El Porto at Dawn: 2006

4 thoughts on “Ars Poetica

  1. What a lovely, wonderful poem Lori. I loved the imagery. Have you seen this website?

  2. I stumbled on this today and I love it…your first line is utterly fantastic. It appears you are not nearly as terrible a poet as you claim to be…

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