Friday, September 27, 2013

Poetry Writing Tip: The Surprising Joy of Being with What Is.....

I sat quietly at a table at the Art and Spirituality Center at Mercy Hospital with a paint brush in my hand on Wednesday. Before me, a tray I am upcycling/repurposing from utilitarian tool of women FOR YEARS into a work of art about women artists, writers and poets whose voices were squelched.

I haven’t allowed myself the luxury of attending Open Studio much this season, but I felt compelled to go because I wanted to be busy and I wanted to be around people rather than alone.

I meant to make some cobalt blue random swipes along with the yellowish white swirls but my first swipe looked weird, not at all swipey. It looked like an intentional shape of some sort but not only that, it looked like an intentional shape.

I put the brush back onto the board and the same shape, the same shape and the third time the same shape. I picked up the brush and looked at its face and there I saw it, the same shape.  I decided to follow the lead of the brush and dipped it into the paint, keeping the shape intact.

Soon there were randomly placed shapes among the swirls and I found myself falling in love with what the “paintbrush said” much more than what I thought I wanted to say. I started an inner chant with each new movement of the paintbrush I added, “What is, What is, What is….”

I was consciously being with “What is” and in my own way, showing gratitude to the paint brush reminding me how important is to simply be with what is in each moment rather than try to make it be something it isn’t.

So, what does this have to do with poetry?

There are times when “I” can’t write a word of poetry. Usually I turn to free writing at this point. I can’t tell you how many times I have read my free writing aloud at my writing group prefacing it with “This will make no sense, I’m embarrassed to even read it to you,” and after I read my group is stunned into silence in a POSITIVE way.

At some point in October when you will think you haven’t got a thing to write. Do like we do in yoga, when you can’t “do a pose well” just lean into it. Don’t effort, just lean. If you can’t write poetry, just write “What is,” even literally at times, scribing what is, even if the word you write is yellow, yellow, yellow – and then free write – stay with “what is” and write – and you will eventually find treasure.

-- Julie Jordan Scott


  1. I enjoyed reading this post. During the next month while I'll try to keep up with this challenge (and get past Writer's Block), I will lean into poetry and write "what is." I can always edit it later, if needed, right? :-)

    Your writing about taking a paintbrush to paper can easily make for a lovely poem!

    1. Thank you so much, Leslye! I will add that to my poem possibility list for October! I look forward to reading your words as the Challenge begins. Two more days!!

  2. Great tip: that's how I write most of my poetry!

    1. You write beautifully. Looking so forward to reading your OctPoWriMo words, Viv!