When asked what inspired her to write poetry, the National Poet of Wales, Gillian Clarke responded “being alive”. Ask most people who write poetry and they will tell you something similar. The art of writing poetry is influenced by the raw emotions experienced on a day to day basis. Most of us at some point have written poetry, be it for personal interest or for school work. But what separates those who do it as an occasional pass time, letting loose some free verse on A4 to vent out some trapped emotions, and those who write every day for (part of) a living?
National laureate Carol Ann Duffy says she fell in love with poetry from a young age and began imitating her literary idols as a teenager. Many careerist poets started young and there is something about the spirit of youth which allows passions to be cemented within one’s essence easier than in later years. This way, by the time one reaches adulthood, writing poetry can become second nature, or a compulsive need, which, without coming as close as possible to satiation, one cannot function.
But what of those who write as a hobby? Most say it comes from a need or desire to express something deep within; a more creative way of expressing oneself than writing a journal. Our tyrannical media culture likes to focus on the fascination between the darker aspects of life and the creative arts, thus there are countless documentaries, films, articles and books about tortured poets who write to find peace of mind, making it seem that unless one is struck by a bout of mental illness they will never be able to write poetry. Whatever your inspiration for writing poetry, we at ONiT would like to quote American humorist James Thurber: don’t get it right; get it written!
What inspires you to write poetry? Let us know in the comments below.