Think of the poems most dear to you. Aren't they about real events? Or perhaps imagined events that are detailed in such a way to make them seem real enough to touch, hear, smell and feel?
As long as we don't allow ourselves to be confined by that old-fashioned, sentimental view of poetry, "writing from the inside out," we can turn our eyes to the wonders of nature, the pyramids, child labor, photosynthesis, or tadpoles for ideas. This approach to writing Michael and I have dubbed, "writing from the outside in."
This is not just a clever turn of a phrase, it is really how we write. Let me give you an example. One night I was walking the dog past the middle school and I heard the clanking of the flagpole and went home to write the poem below. I didn't write it because I am the loneliest person on the planet, nor because I was rummaging around in my heart for a topic to write about. No. That night the image of that flagpole, the hollow clanking from its cement perch of isolation, made me think about loneliness.
Have I ever in my life felt lonely? Of course. But the true inspiration for the poem came from an outside event mixed with prior knowledge about what goes on in a typical middle school.
I am SO looking forward to learning and sharing ideas about writing to improve comprehension and how we can look outside of ourselves and at our studies as sources of inspiration in addition to using technology for research, collaboration, and taking our writing public. Writing need not be a lonely pursuit!
I'm not going steady.
I'm nobody's best friend.
I guess I'm 'bout the loneliest
that anybody's been.
There's no one waiting at the door
at three for me to meet.
And if I'm late for lunch,
no one's saving me a seat.
My love life=s not the topic
of hot homeroom conversation.
Like some old empty locker,
no one wants my combination.
This school's made up of partners,
two halves to every whole,
left on the outside,
like that clankin' old flagpole.
©1996 sara holbrook, I Never Said I Wasn’t Difficult, Boyds Mills Press
All rights reserved.