The affliction of creativity

Periodically I get words and phrases coming into my head of a vaguely poetic/lyrical nature, and occasionally one lingers long enough that I have to exorcise it onto the page. I reckon that, like the monkeys on the typewriters, if I do it enough times I'll eventually have something worth reading. Until such time, the poor saps who've clicked on this thread will have to suffer my latest:

My life is an open book, O Lord,
To you who are the author of my soul
Day by day I take the pen and write
My each word clear and noted in your sight

You are the author of my soul
Please take my hand in yours
Show me what, and how to write
That my life may echo yours


As you look upon my life, O God
Some pages in my book make me ashamed
I don’t want to, I fear to look
At words which show that I’ve caused others’ pain

Every day when I sit down to write
My heart’s words are your Holy Spirit’s song
Yet each day when words are put to page
Songs turn to murmurs, poetry to noise

You took up the pen yourself, O Lord
Eternal Word made once of mortal flesh
Your book stained with tears and marked with blood
Your perfect life lived once for others’ gain.
Tagged:

Comments

  • A most appealing thread title! Being entirely free of the 'affliction of creativity', I read the above OP with a quite uncritical mind, but with admiration for setting fingers to keyboard.

  • KarlLBKarlLB Shipmate
    I've been struggling to come with new material, so what does my brain do but take inspiration from a somewhat unpleasant character from a TV Drama.

    So we get

    Villanelle, Villanelle
    You're as crazy as Hell
    Berlin or Rome
    You send them home
    Villanelle


    Not sure whether to let this develop
  • KarlLB wrote: »
    I've been struggling to come with new material, so what does my brain do but take inspiration from a somewhat unpleasant character from a TV Drama.

    So we get

    Villanelle, Villanelle
    You're as crazy as Hell
    Berlin or Rome
    You send them home
    Villanelle


    Not sure whether to let this develop

    Eh, what's the worst that could happen? ;)
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host
    Mine is more an affliction of silly creativity, not poetical or spiritual, but more daft. Lately I've been releasing it in drawing portraits of politicians on old potatoes (potatoes with lots of long, pale, messy sprouts for hair make a good Boris) but I did write my own version of 'When I am an woman I shall wear purple' a couple of years ago. I had been thinking about how wearing purple with a red hat, and eating whatever one likes, isn't really frowned on these days, so I was trying to think what would be properly disapproved of. I can't remember if I've ever posted it here, so apologies if it's a repeat - I do occasionally dig it out in online discussions asking for poems, because I haven't written anything else since this one.


    When I'm an old woman I shall wear crocs
    Or pink sandals with red socks
    I shall pluck out my eyebrow hairs one by one
    Drawing on new ones with green Sharpie pen
    If you happen to stare or sneer at my style
    I shall fart
    Loudly
    And pretend it was you
    I'll point and hold my nose and say 'pooh!'
    I shall merrily flaunt a muffin top
    And go barefoot without washing my feet
    Or clipping my toenails
    Or shaving my toes
    I shall write all my letters in Comic Sans font
    Sprinkling apostrophe's in plural's for fun
    Running on my sentence's
    Irregardless of your preference's
    I shall randomly mix up there, their and they're
    Never using an Oxford comma
    And I'll aks for an expresso when I go to Starbucks
    Or maybe a cachuppino
    With less sprinkles and fewer milk
    And if you try to correct me
    Or even
    just
    wince
    I shall fart again
    Loudly
    And say 'Oh dear, I shat myself'
  • TrudyTrudy Heaven Host
    Initially I was not sure
    What a thread such as this might be for
    "If your verse you would flog
    Put it up on your blog!"
    Was the Host-comment I had in store.

    Then I woke up this morning to see
    A blossoming of creativity
    With more poets sharing
    Their verse (oh, how daring!)
    So I said to myself, "Let it be."*


    -Trudy, Heavenly Host


    *For the benefit of those students who ask, "But Miss, what do the poem MEAN?" I offer a prose paraphrase: While a thread with one person sharing something they wrote might initially seem not to have much room for discussion, if others want to continue adding their own bits of random creativity, we Heavenly Hosts will keep it open for now and see how it goes.
  • As to purpose, I hoped that either others would have things to share or that I might receive a heavenly critique from the saintly inhabitants.
  • FirenzeFirenze Shipmate, Host Emeritus
    Ah well, if it’s the criticism you’re wanting...

    Everything IMO works better with attention to scansion, metre and rhyme. The discipline of writing to a specific verse form clarifies the thought and stretches the conception. With any luck it will take you in directions you had not thought of, spark unsuspected connections, ideas will rise like fish to food.

    It’s bloody difficult of course, but that’s the point.
  • (I really enjoyed the poetry 8th-day thing we did a while back. I even bought the Steven Fry book, and read most of it. )
  • I took comfort from the many great hymnists of the past who managed excellent rhythm and scan for the first verse but by verse three were hammering any old tat into the chosen meter out of sheer desperation *eyes Christina Rossetti*. But yes, even trying to get lines with syllables following a 9 10 9 10 pattern was hard enough even with the rhythm all over the place.
  • I get odd images that have not found themselves into poems yet. The oldest is street lamp studded rain-filled sky. Another is brown baubles that hung from the bare claws of the plane trees.

    They reside in my brain but never seem to really attach themselves to specific incidents in a way that would make a poem.
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host
    Arethosemyfeet, my comment on your poem, since you are talking about scansion and such, is that you have a specific number of syllables in each line (I counted, to see if that is how you were doing it, and saw you were), but they don't scan the same, because the words that would get the emphasis in these phrases, with natural talking rhythm, are in different places. If you read the first line of each verse, the rhythm and emphasis is very different in each one. So although it visually looks like a hymn type poem, it's hard to know how to read aloud. I didn't get a sense of the rhythm. Is there a hymn tune you had in mind that you could sing it to?
  • No, your read of the issue with the rhythms is spot on - I think I will revisit it and try and get my head around the technicalities of iambic and trochaic and whatever else comes with considering meter more carefully.
  • FirenzeFirenze Shipmate, Host Emeritus
    Try taking ‘is’ out of the first line, and ‘who are’ out of the second. Punchier, no?

    The syntax of poetry, I think, needs to be that bit more compressive than ordinary speech. No superfluous words. Rhyme intensifies the sense of movement. Think, if Donne had written -

    GOE, and catche a falling starre,
    Get with child a mandrake roote,
    Tell me, where all past yeares go
    Or who cleft the Divels hoof,


    The scansion’s the same but it doesn’t work, does it?

    Oh, and I agree about Rossetti (‘If I were a wise man/I would do my part’ irresistibly suggests ‘If I were a wise man/I would do my thing’)
  • AndrasAndras Shipmate
    I'll give my usual advice to budding writers: Join a writers’ group! There are some out there which function as mutual admiration societies, and from which you will learn nothing, but there are some truly excellent ones as well which will guide and nurture you. Heed what they say!

    And the discipline of producing work for others to read and comment on week in and week out is, I think, the best way to develop your creativity. Remember: Learning the rules of your craft won’t stop you being a genius!
  • MiffyMiffy Shipmate
    Fineline- I, too, have been inspired by the contents of my fruit and veg box! So far I’ve produced two cartoon potatoes for a themed online creativity challenge on faces. ‘Bald’ and ‘Beardy’ potato men take pride of place in my sketchbook. Whether I’ve enough oomph to stay organic until the 28th remains to be seen, though...
  • Firenze wrote: »
    Try taking ‘is’ out of the first line, and ‘who are’ out of the second. Punchier, no?

    The syntax of poetry, I think, needs to be that bit more compressive than ordinary speech. No superfluous words. Rhyme intensifies the sense of movement. Think, if Donne had written -

    GOE, and catche a falling starre,
    Get with child a mandrake roote,
    Tell me, where all past yeares go
    Or who cleft the Divels hoof,


    The scansion’s the same but it doesn’t work, does it?

    Oh, and I agree about Rossetti (‘If I were a wise man/I would do my part’ irresistibly suggests ‘If I were a wise man/I would do my thing’)

    Anent Rossetti... I thought I was the only person who was irritated by that line. It has always seemed to me that she had already run out of steam and didn't stop when she should have done - a terrible line. I have some verses that have been stalled for that very reason, for a very long time, and refuse to use plug words just to get it finished.
  • So I had another crack at this this evening just the one verse so far:
    My life’s an open book to you
    The author of my soul
    Each day I take the pen and write
    Words I pray will you extol
    You are the author of my soul
    Take my hand in yours
    Then show me what and how to write
    That my life may echo yours

    Line 4 is not quite right. I'm thinking ROWAN TREE for the tune.
  • FirenzeFirenze Shipmate, Host Emeritus
    edited February 27
    I would say Voices echo, hands do not. Hands form, trace, copy, mould etc

    The image of writing/authoring is fair enough, but it needs to be pushed further. Into some specific, grounded sense of what it is like to shape meaning into words. Heaney’s Digging is a case in point. You feel his labour with the pen in precisely evoking the physical labours of his father and grandfather.

    Also the repetition of the line ‘The author of my soul’ sets up the expectation that the last line will be a further extension and intensification in the manner of Goethe’s Kennst du das Land?
  • FirenzeFirenze Shipmate, Host Emeritus
    In fact, recasting it as a villanelle would IMO be a way to go.
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host
    When I write poems with rhythm and meter and rhyme, I tend to find words to hang around the rhythm, meter and rhyme, rather than write the words first and then try to squeeze them in. Line 4 doesn't work, as you say. How I would do it is think of the various words that rhyme with soul and think of a line that uses one and fits the meter. You could say, for instance, 'And hope you will extol,' which works, and then you'd need a line or two about what you hope God will extol. Or you could say something different, but something that still fits the overall meaning/theme you are wanting to express. That's how I do it, at least, but also I don't tend to write serious poetry, and how I do it isn't how everyone does it.
  • AndrasAndras Shipmate
    You’re getting there, but Words I pray will you extol doesn’t work for me.

    Victorian poets (and earlier) would freely alter the word-order of spoken English, sometimes to very interesting effect (so that when Thomas Gray writes And all the air a solemn stillness holds, we’re left deliberately unsure of whether the air holds the stillness or vice-versa) but this sort of inversion really is best avoided in modern writing.

    As far as possible go for everyday words rather than the arcane or the unfamiliar; they do have their place, but it’s a limited one - and extol is probably just such a word. The vocabulary of Tell out, my soul by Tim Dudley-Smith is an object lesson in using everyday language to superb effect.

    Have you found Rhymezone? It’s a wonderfully useful site, and I recommend it strongly!

    And good luck!
  • FirenzeFirenze Shipmate, Host Emeritus
    It’s always good to write poems on large sheets of paper. That way you can scribble all the possible rhymes, all the fragmentary lines, all the (at this point apparently unconnected) words and phrases that come to you.

    From this rubble you gradually sift out the bits that cohere. You will often have to discard favourites (‘kill your darlings’) but hopefully find new and better ones.

    The way to avoid the any-word-so-it-fits trap is not to let it happen. You know when a line is fundamentally feeble. Try again. Fail better (as the man said).
  • AndrasAndras Shipmate
    Firenze wrote: »
    It’s always good to write poems on large sheets of paper. That way you can scribble all the possible rhymes, all the fragmentary lines, all the (at this point apparently unconnected) words and phrases that come to you.

    From this rubble you gradually sift out the bits that cohere. You will often have to discard favourites (‘kill your darlings’) but hopefully find new and better ones.

    The way to avoid the any-word-so-it-fits trap is not to let it happen. You know when a line is fundamentally feeble. Try again. Fail better (as the man said).

    Very interesting - and very good advice!

    When Anthony Payne was recreating Elgar’s unfinished Third Symphony - a truly wonderful job, in which the original Elgar shines through - he apparently found among Elgar’s sketches whole sections that had been completely worked out in short score, but with no indication of where they were supposed to fit in the complete work, or even what the expected tempi or full orchestration would be.

    Exactly the same principle as you are advocating, applied in his case to music rather than poetry!
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host
    Realising that I always write poetry in my head - not sure I'd be able to do it on large pieces of paper. All other writing I have to put on paper right away - it happens as I write rather than beforehand. But poetry happens inside my head, with internal sound rather than internal image, and once it's finished, I write it down so I won't forget it. I wonder if others do this. I never thought about it before - didn't occur to me that people might plan it on paper.
  • agingjbagingjb Shipmate
    A word about villanelles. They do demand, first, enough rhyme words for the two rhymes chosen, and secondly a good couplet that will finish the poem and have two lines that can be fitted naturally as repetitions in a variety of contexts.

    I would, perhaps, recommend octosyllabic couplets as a form that could be practiced before launching into villanelles or sonnets.

    I wish I could compose in my head, but unless I write or type immediately, I just forget the lines.
  • AndrasAndras Shipmate
    Of all the poetic forms available, I'd say that the villanelle is about the most tricky to pull off, especially with the constant repetition of the two 'chorus' lines. It can be done, of course - Do not go gentle into that good night is probably the finest example in English - but easy it certainly isn't. And terza rima is almost as tricky, and for much the same reasons - English doesn't have the ease of rhyming that Italian or French do.

    Decasyllabic blank verse is much more straightforward, as it matches almost perfectly the rhythms of spoken English. Indeed, A P Herbert once delared that he'd written a play in blank verse because he didn't have the time to write it in prose.
  • FirenzeFirenze Shipmate, Host Emeritus
    I agree the villanelle is tricky, but I thought of it in this instance it would make a virtue of the concentration on a single image (writing/authorship) and the existing repetition of the same line, while at the same time encouraging expansion or unpacking of the same image.

    But other forms are available. I would nevertheless attempt something with rhyme in there somewhere, because I think it is such a good mental gymnastic.
  • AndrasAndras Shipmate
    Firenze wrote: »
    I agree the villanelle is tricky, but I thought of it in this instance it would make a virtue of the concentration on a single image (writing/authorship) and the existing repetition of the same line, while at the same time encouraging expansion or unpacking of the same image.

    But other forms are available. I would nevertheless attempt something with rhyme in there somewhere, because I think it is such a good mental gymnastic.

    There are actually two repeating lines in a villanelle; using the Dylan Thomas as an example they are Do not go gentle into that good night and Rage, rage against the dying of the light. That’s very effective in that particular poem, but the constraints that the form forces on the writer are very tricky to navigate, as I’ve found myself.

    The mental gymnastics required to write in a fixed form - a sonnet’s a nice example - are very valuable, I agree. The trick is to get the rhymes to work without them obviously controlling the poem - if something is in only because of the rhyme - and obviously so - then there's a problem.
  • FirenzeFirenze Shipmate, Host Emeritus
    Oh I agree: you need a killer couplet for a villanelle. The Dylan rather hogs the limelight, but I also like Elizabeth Bishop’s One Art, which is a slightly looser take on the form.
  • AravisAravis Shipmate
    Maybe a pantoum would work with this theme instead?
  • AndrasAndras Shipmate
    Pantoums, villanelles and the rest are an interesting challenge for the writer; but perhaps the OP should feel comfortable with something easier to begin with. Plenty of time to run once one has learned to walk...
  • agingjbagingjb Shipmate
    I admit to writing quite a lot of verse. It is virtually all in various defined forms, some of which have been mentioned. The one exception is in, I suppose, free verse, and has very structured content.

    It is all on the net. The last time I added a link to my site to a post, the effect seemed to be to bring a thread on cooperative writing of triolets to a rapid halt. Oh well, it's easy enough to find.
  • Firenze wrote: »
    It’s always good to write poems on large sheets of paper. That way you can scribble all the possible rhymes, all the fragmentary lines, all the (at this point apparently unconnected) words and phrases that come to you.

    From this rubble you gradually sift out the bits that cohere. You will often have to discard favourites (‘kill your darlings’) but hopefully find new and better ones.

    I agree. It's a completely different process from prose fiction which I can happily write straight onto the screen. Writing prose is like bricklaying (for me anyway) with a straightforward relationship between one line, one thought, one paragraph, and the next. Creating a poem, which I always do reluctantly and usually because the prose requires it, is more like juggling a lot of words and ideas in the air and freeze-framing it when everything is in the 'right' position.
  • @Ohher, not sure if this helps or not, but this was where the literary creativity was celebrated. I tripped over it when I was looking for the craft thread.
  • OhherOhher Shipmate
    @Ohher, not sure if this helps or not, but this was where the literary creativity was celebrated. I tripped over it when I was looking for the craft thread.

    Thanks, CK.
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