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  • April 4th, 2011 | 8:53 PM
Poem a Day #4

For the month of March I gave myself permission to not write and to try and learn how to play (mostly with art.) My hope was that I could find a way to reconnect with my lost writer self. Now that the month of play is over I am trying to distill what I have learned on my journey in my poem-a-day project for National Poetry Month.

I've always been one of those writers who said they "heard voices" and didn't see pictures. I could tell you how my characters felt but not what they looked like. Even my dreams were primarily auditory and not visual.

During my month of play I gave myself the same sleep intention every night, "What stories should I tell?" I didn't even mention a character's name because I didn't want to influence my subconscious. For a few weeks I had no response. None in my dreams and none in one of those moments of inspiration that come when you least except it. I just kept on doing what I was already doing. I couldn't say that I trusted the process, I just hadn't invested anything emotionally in a particular outcome.

After a few weeks of practicing mixing colors and playing with various texture techniques, I was surprised to find myself thinking in pictures and not words. Now considering my fears around not writing and wondering if I would ever write again, this might have made me even more afraid that my silence was permanent and not just a passing pause. But instead I found it invigorating. Laying in bed, waiting to fall asleep and I would wonder what would happen if added a glaze of burnt sienna or dripped some India ink across the half-finished collage that waited on my desk. I saw myself grabbing a handful of colorful papers and gluing them willy-nilly and watching a sunset explode in front of me.

Making art was changing the way my brain worked.

A pair of haiku for today.

paints tales only I can hear
when I close my eyes

silence sits with me
I am unafraid. Art sings,
colors hold my hand

© 2011 Susan Taylor Brown. All rights reserved.

Kidlitosphere Central has the master list of all the poetic events going on this month.

There are so many stories only you can tell.Tell them, please.


( 8 comments — Leave comment )
April 5th, 2011 11:08 am (UTC)
I love "colors hold my hand." Sometimes we are just so hungry for color . . .

Have you seen Natalie Goldberg's Top of My Lungs? It's poems and paintings--she's a self-taught artist. Her colors are amazing. The essay "How Poetry Saved My Life" is worth the book.
April 6th, 2011 05:38 am (UTC)
Thanks, Candace. Top of My Lungs is one of Natalie's I haven't seen. Thank you for the recommendation.
April 5th, 2011 12:21 pm (UTC)
Ditto what Candice said. Great line. Great poems. Words paint pictures all the time for me. These poems, too.
April 6th, 2011 05:39 am (UTC)
Thanks, Slatts. It's something you're quite used to by now, I suppose but it is really amazing in its newness to me, this discovery of stories without words.
April 5th, 2011 11:18 pm (UTC)
Lovely, Susan. I'm enjoying your posts so much. The poetry is beautiful and I find myself rooting for you, willing you to find yourself, your words, your play. Praying that new life spring forth from the winter season.
April 6th, 2011 05:40 am (UTC)
Thank you, Dori. I appreciate the kind words. They encourage me to keep going.

The month was an awakening for me....now the trick is going to be to keep on going in the right direction while my feet feel so rooted in the clay.
April 6th, 2011 12:14 am (UTC)
Love the dream question. I am going to try that: "what do I want to do next?"

And I love those last lines in your haiku. They follow each other.
April 6th, 2011 05:43 am (UTC)
Thank you, Andi. Oooh, now I need to try and do a series of haiku with the end lines telling another story.

I love doing sleep suggestions. Often find them very helpful.
( 8 comments — Leave comment )

Who am I?I was born on the Cancer/Leo cusp and share a birthday with Ernest Hemingway and Robin Williams. The similarities don't stop there as I can go from depressed to ecstatic without ever passing go. I feel scared most of the time though my friends call me brave and I find it easier to believe in my friends than to believe in my own abilities to make what I want out of my life.

Who am I? A wife, a mother, a daughter, and even, gulp, a grandmother.

Who am I? A writer who never gets tired of playing with words, even when the words are hard to find. A writer of books for children and articles for grown-ups and many things in-between.

Who am I? A motivational speaker, writing instructor, workshop leader and full-time follower of dreams.

Who am I? Read and find out.

Susan Taylor Brown

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"Successful writers are not the ones who write the best sentences. They are the ones who keep writing. They are the ones who discover what is most important and strangest and most pleasurable in themselves, and keep believing in the value of their work, despite the difficulties."
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"As writers, we must be willing to feel our sadness, our anger, our terror, so we can reach in and find our sweet vulnerability that is just sitting there waiting for us to come back home."
--Nancy Slonim Aronie

"Writers write about what obsesses them. You draw those cards. I lost my mother when I was 14. My daughter died at the age of 6. I lost my faith as a Catholic. When I'm writing, the darkness is always there. I go where the pain is."
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