Saturday, December 17, 2011

Poem idea starters

I've written poems for many, many years. I remember the poem I wrote in high school for Mr Scalzi's History class once. I was supposed to be writing something, not a poem but something else, about some part of Ancient History that began with a 'C'. I can't remember what the town or country was apart from knowing what letter it began with, but it was in Europe, which might as well have been on the moon, it bore so little in common with my own life.

Anyway, I was thinking about the whole thing, or more likely not thinking about it, and I wrote a poem. I liked the poem enough to submit it for my History assignment. My History teacher liked the poem too, and I received a good mark for it. That made me feel good about my abilities, which is always a nice thing to have happen, when you're a teenager. 

This experience didn't make me love History, but it strengthened my love of English. As a good reader, who liked to write poetry, English was always my favourite subject. The point of this slightly rambling explanation is this: Poems can come from most unexpected places.

I hadn't intended writing a poem in that History lesson back in the seventies. I was open to writing a poem though, so when that poem arrived, I was there to capture it. I took that poem home from school and shared it with my mum. She liked the poem too, and she still has a copy of it. I haven't read the poem again, but I still remember what it was. 

The poem was a metaphor for something in my own life. My feelings of not understanding what was required of me to live my life properly came out in that poem. I don't know if anyone else got that out of the poem, but poetry is always open to the interpretation of the reader. 

So now I will reiterate my point - poems can come from unexpected places. Now I am a keen birdwatcher, and I live in rural South Australia, about sixty kilometres north of Adelaide. Because I live where I live, I have lots of birds to watch. One thing that's intrigued me for many years is the behaviour of Welcome Swallows. 

We have a swimming pool, and I often see swallows circle around the pool, then flying in low to touch the pool's water, the off again. I used to think they were taking a drink from the pool, and I didn't think the water would taste very good.

A friend recently said to me that the reason the swallows would be dipping in the pool, would be to get some water to make mud for making nests. I've carried this little snippet around in my head for a month or so, and now, finally it was emerged in a haiku poem.

I've wanted to write about the swallows flying around the pool in this way, and this information, combined with a haiku written by the Japanese master haiku poet, gave me my first successful poem about these lovely little birds. I love haiku poetry, and I'm glad I've finally got a poem about them, and how they connect with my life.

I'm not saying this is a wonderful poem, that's not up to me to say, but I'm happy with it. It captures the moment for me, and when I read it, I can see in my mind, a swallow circling and skimming across the pool surface and up again. I have no idea where the swallows go from my pool, I just know they arrive and fly off again.

This is the poem:

dips in again,
pool water to make mud -
where is swallow’s nest?

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