I learned how to write poems by reading the book of John Fox. I devoured Finding What You Didn’t Lose, Expressing Your Truth and Creativity Through Poem-Making.
I highlighted, performed the exercises and read the poems featured in the book. I had so much fun! Poetry set me free in so many ways.
I loved the book so much I wrote John Fox and told him how I enjoyed learning poetry through his book. Those were the days of snail mail and to my surprise, Fox snail mailed back, with a short note of encouragement.
Here are some wonderful quotes from the book, lifted from Chapter Four entitled “Language as Play.”
“Writing poetry will come naturally if you allow yourslf to become as direct and free as a young child, if you can access a child’s sense of curiosity and joy, a child’s contact with feelings unfettered by analysis, as well as a child’s ability to create metaphor by uninhibitedly making connections between everything seen and experienced. ”
“Playfulness in using language occurs on many levels. There is the aspect of playfulness found in being original and inventive. But there is also a level of playfulness that goes to the core of being a writer – playfulness is a way to allow your writing to flow without judgment.”
“When as adults we experiment with making sounds, we take a major step toward connecting with the poet within. It means enjoying words for the way they pop, ring, reverberate in our ears. It means delighting in the nonmeaning aspect of words – as a child does when he chants, ‘Hickory dickory dock…” or Fi Fie Fo Fum…’ ”
Two Suggestions from Fox
According to Fox, the word “poet” means “maker.” In poem making, Fox suggests that we “treat words as if they were objects you might find in nature: a shell, a stone, a palm frond, flower petals, some sage.” Just as we can group these objects together and form a beautiful arrangement, we can choose attractive, fun-sounding words and write “natural poems.”
Another way we can approach poem-making is by treating the words as though they were paint, clay or wood. Says Fox: “Words thus become artistic material to be molded or chiseled or blended. You already have your materials, all you need now is to follow your imagination and your sense of what interests you.”