The genesis of a poem for me is usually a cluster of words. The only good metaphor I can think of is a scientific one: dipping a thread into a supersaturated solution to induce crystal formation.
~ Margaret Atwood – From a 1990 interview with The Paris Review
Atwood’s idea of a poem’s genesis echoes my experiences.
I collect words. For their sound, texture and how they work with other words around them. I might group them by sound or rhythm or any number of marvellous combinations. Yes, there is an idea that goes with them but I often let the words take the lead, and like that supersaturated solution, induce a poem.
Like the crystal formation, the words layer together to suggest shapes, thoughts, and ideas. Change the order of them and you might get a new formation. Dropping this metaphor for a minute, I see a similarity between word formation and image formation. Colour, brush stroke, shape etc. come together to make a picture. The small elements make the whole but the small elements are their own story/picture as well.
Somewhere in my writing process I realized that words were not always enough for me. I began to seek out other ways of communicating by experimenting with various processes and media. As I strived to find ways to combine words with images, I learned to follow my instincts and open to the process of experimentation. The process also deepened my writing practice.
As a practice this year I began the “thing of beauty” project. Posting images on Instagram with poetry sketches on the side and then on the images.
Here are a few of my favourites: