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Art Abandonment: Poetry inspiration

Art Abandonment: Poetry inspiration

Art abandonment is a fantastic movement where people all over the world create and then abandon art. The items vary from painted rocks to jewelry, sticky notes with positive words to fine art on canvas. There are no limitations to what can be abandoned. The items are then left with little notes. Most people don’t take credit for the item, but some do. It’s a fairly lenient and open movement.

Check out the Facebook page for the group if you’re interested in learning more or want to participate. People will post pictures of what they leave, so you can be inspired by everyone’s creativity and generosity.

So. Why not abandon poetry?

The whole point of the abandonment movement is to sprinkle a little art and joy in the world. It’s to make someone else’s day that much better. We don’t often get to read positive poetry. I don’t know if it’s a prerequisite for being a poet or writer in general, but most of us suffer in some way or have an interest in the dark, morbid recesses of humanity. We don’t often write about being happy.**

** Really. I dug around and even when the topic was hope, happiness, love, or other positive emotions, writers still make it somehow not positive. If ever there was someone I could count on to bring me a good positive poem, I knew Naomi Shihab Nye would not disappoint. She has a poem titled “So Much Happiness” and I think it describes why it’s so difficult for a writer to put down the positive emotions on paper:

It is difficult to know what to do with so much happiness.
With sadness there is something to rub against,
a wound to tend with lotion and cloth.
When the world falls in around you, you have pieces to pick up,
something to hold in your hands, like ticket stubs or change.

But happiness floats.
It doesn’t need you to hold it down.
It doesn’t need anything.

She has this great passage shortly after:

Happiness lands on the roof of the next house, singing,
and disappears when it wants to.
You are happy either way.

And Nye finishes with this stanza:

Since there is no place large enough
to contain so much happiness,
you shrug, you raise your hands, and it flows out of you
into everything you touch. You are not responsible.
You take no credit, as the night sky takes no credit
for the moon, but continues to hold it, and share it,
and in that way, be known.

That last stanza is my favorite. If you remember from the Positive Seeds post a while back, everything you do has an effect on you and on the entire world. This stanza talks about that positive seed and how it flows out of you. You have no control over it once it leaves you. It is out in the world to do what it can. That energy is out there for everyone and everything.

It’s our turn! Think of how you feel when filled with that positive energy. The topic doesn’t matter, just write about what makes you feel good. Swimming? Singing? Your pets? Your loved ones?

Write something positive. Then, with whatever colored pens / markers / crayons / etc. you have, add some life and little doodles around the poem. Or leave it as is. You can put it in a frame, or make it small enough to fit in someone’s wallet.

Share here in the comments, or share it on the Facebook page for the group. If you do, let me know! I’d love to see all the beautiful and creative pieces you abandon.

Happy writing!


A long, long overdue update

Oh my gosh! This blog was started 5 years ago, and embarrassingly, I kind of, sort of abandoned it a while ago. It wasn’t an intentional thing; I just got distracted. Which happens.

A lot has happened, and now it’s time for this baby to be rebooted. Look forward to more posts and prompts on poetry! I’ve missed it so much, I can feel my skin itching from it…I don’t think I’ve ever admitted on here how I feel that writing and addictions are similar. Most people look at me funny when I say it, so I usually keep it to myself. You won’t judge, though, right?

Well anyway, we are seriously getting back into this. Now that On Art and Crafting is doing well and I’ve finally started my own online business selling beard oils and jewelry/ accessories at Crafty Jak’s Emporium (check it out!), I feel like I can add this back to the list.

I do believe we will have fun with the very next writing prompt. Recently, I’ve gotten into the art abandonment scene (check out the group on Facebook if you’re interested in participating), and the next few posts will be how to integrate poetry with the movement.

I sincerely hope that after the prompt you will take your newly formed art and abandon it for the world to see!

Writing Prompt – Dickinson style

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What do I mean when I say “Dickinson style?” Well, first off, the tone and pacing is conversational and leisurely. The pace is not rushed.

Also, close the laptop and turn off the computer. This is an exercise in handwriting poems! Instead of using bold or italic or underline in Word to emphasize words, use your creative imagination to come up with a unique style to emphasize words.

Go forth! Write like Dickinson. And see what you come up with. You might just find something that’s uniquely your own. And don’t forget to share what you’ve created in the comments!

Poet #4: Emily Dickinson

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OK. Most people who read poetry either love or hate Emily. It’s rarely anything in between.

Emily lived during the 1800’s. While she was raised in a much more strict environment, she never married. Emily was reclusive, and rarely left her home. That didn’t stop her from writing, though. She would often include poems in her letters to family and friends. None of her poems were published during her lifetime.

After her death, her family found around 1,800 poems hand bound in her dresser. Emily’s family published her poetry.

Dickinson didn’t write like her contemporaries. She used markings in her poetry, vertical and horizontal lines, that were removed from the published versions of the poems. In the subsequent publishings, the markings were re-inserted as en dashes.

My absolute favorite of Dickinson’s poetry is “Because I could not stop for Death:”

Because I could not stop for Death –
He kindly stopped for me –
The Carriage held but just Ourselves –
And Immortality.
We slowly drove – He knew no haste
And I had put away
My labor and my leisure too,
For His Civility –

The poem itself has a leisurely cadence to it, as if the speaker is in no hurry. The image of Death here is different from the typical description, as well. Death seems almost gentlemanly.  The speaker sets aside her life for Death and his “Civility.” What an interesting ride it must be, sitting alone with Death. But that, too, makes Death seem kinder – he takes only one passenger at a time and sits with them.

Another of my favorite poems is “I heard a Fly buzz – when I died:”

I heard a Fly buzz – when I died –
The Stillness in the Room
Was like the Stillness in the Air –
Between the Heaves of Storm –
There interposed a Fly –
With Blue – uncertain stumbling Buzz –
Between the light – and me –
And then the Windows failed –
and then I could not see to see –

The last thought of the speaker is not on the family mourning her death, but the buzzing of a fly! Isn’t that funny? She’s no longer focusing on dying, but on a silly insect that’s intruded on her death. Can’t you imagine it? Laying there, waiting to die, with your family and friends surrounding you. And in a moment of silence, between the sniffling and the crying, a fly starts buzzing around the room. And distracted, your eyes follow the insect until your eyes, or “windows,” fail and you die. What juxtaposition – the severity of the situation with the annoyance of a fly.

This is what I love about Dickinson’s poetry. She has an unhurried tone, a rhythm that you just pick up. The en dashes are like pauses, like an emphasis we create by making something italic or bold. But back in the 1800’s when computers didn’t exist, how else could someone indicate an emphasis in their handwritten poetry?

Next up — Writing Prompt!

Prompt response: Nature poem

Hey there. It’s been a while, I know. But moving is bad for the blogging.

I’ve been working on this poem for a while now (since I posted the prompt a few weeks ago), and while I don’t think it’s done, I’m sharing the first five lines here with you:

The bush, he says, the bush he walks a mile for

— Along grass less dirt paths,

fake tree shade scraping ghostly fingers on striped reptiles.

To pull off a leafy twig of evergreen and white flowers.

So… what did you come up with?

Prompt: Nature

In the previous post, we learned about Whitman and Merwin, as well as Emerson, and their fascination with Nature. We learned how Nature, in all its grandeur, makes for a powerful and, well, easy subject.

This week, do some free writing about Nature. Take a walk and scribble down some notes in that notebook you keep in your back pocket. Write a few scenes, with full sentences. Write everything. Yes, even about the lizard that just ran into a bush, or the squirrel that you almost hit on your way to work today.

Then, when you’re done, read through everything you’ve written and pick out phrases. Pick out descriptions, actions. Play with it. Don’t worry about it being disjointed, just go for it! You’ll add in more as you go.

Once you’ve picked out your phrases, begin creating a poem. Find your rhythm. Do you want it rushed and hurried like a storm? Should it flow like the stream, mostly smooth, with the occasional bump? Do you want it to look like it’s a cloud, raining down words? Or like a flower growing up out of the grasslands?

Play with it. Explore Nature. And if you wouldn’t mind, share it here.

Nature and Poetry

A child said, What is the grass? fetching it to me with full


How could I answer the child?. . . .I do not know what it

is any more than he.

— Walt Whitman, “A child said, What is the grass?”

CC stock photo

CC stock photo

Nature has long been a popular topic for poets. Its serenity, violence, sheer power and beauty make it an easy subject.

One of Whitman’s most famous poems, “Song of Myself,” has several sections where he interacts with nature, contemplates its very being, like the quote above. What a simple question! What is grass? How many of us could answer that? I can just imagine the child standing there, holding a fistful of grass.

The world below the brine;   
Forests at the bottom of the sea—the branches and leaves,   
Sea-lettuce, vast lichens, strange flowers and seeds—
      the thick tangle, the openings, and the pink turf,   
Different colors, pale gray and green, purple, white, and gold—
      the play of light through the water,

“The World Below the Brine” contains beautiful imagery of water and its inhabitants. Whitman calls the underwater plants forests, and isn’t that accurate? Have you ever looked into the water and seen nothing but the seaweed waving about just below the surface?

Or how about his poem, “When Lilacs Last in the Door-yard Bloom’d?”

O powerful, western, fallen star!   
O shades of night! O moody, tearful night!   
O great star disappear'd! O the black murk that hides the star!   
O cruel hands that hold me powerless! O helpless soul of me!
O harsh surrounding cloud, that will not free my soul!

What a great way to use the exclamation device. It’s like he’s crying out to nature. How helpless and small he feels next to it.

Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Song of Nature” is a beautiful example of Nature poetry:

I hid in the solar glory,
I am dumb in the pealing song,
I rest on the pitch of the torrent,
In slumber I am strong.

I love that last line. It’s says so much about Nature. It doesn’t matter if it’s chaotic or calm, Nature will always be powerful.

And many a thousand summers
My apples ripened well,
And light from meliorating stars
With firmer glory fell.

I wrote the past in characters
Of rock and fire the scroll,
The building in the coral sea,
The planting of the coal.

The familiar rhyme scheme of Emerson’s poem keeps a wonderful rhythm for the subject. He is able to paint a scene of Nature’s majesty, personifies it by “building” the coral sea, or “planting” the coal. Nature’s apples “ripened well.” Emerson goes beyond personifying Nature, and almost deifies it.

Deifying Nature is how many religions started, isn’t it? Personifying the power of Nature, giving it a name, a face. Zeus, of Lightning. Tiamat, of oceans. Ra, the sun…writing of Nature like Emerson or Whitman, or even Wordsworth:

My heart leaps up when I behold 
   A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began; 
So is it now I am a man; 
So be it when I shall grow old, 
   Or let me die!
The Child is father of the Man;
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.

— “My Heart Leaps Up” by William Wordsworth