Do you have a go-to website that you use when writing poems? Many of the poems in my middle grade novel use rhyme. I have a rhyming dictionary. It is on my bookshelf in the basement, gathering dust. Why? Because www.rhymezone.com is right at my fingertips.
Today's highly effective habit is Googling or, more generally, following the thread of an Internet search. Procrastination technique? Maybe. But the search may lead you to an interesting discovery, a small corner of scientific knowledge or an outdated law that might inspire a poem, according to poet Barbara Westwood Diehl. Barbara is the founding editor of the online journal Baltimore Review.
Google has been the doorway to a lot of my poems. Sometimes it’s just a tool to find pronunciations and definitions. Sometimes those definitions are breadcrumb trails to other words— better words to slip into my poems. Sometimes, I have no idea what word I’m looking for, so I type something along the line of “kinds of angels” or “what mountains are made of” in the search box.
Most of the time, I’ll find what I’m looking for—or I’ll find something amazing and get seduced to a place far from where I had in mind. And then, although that place may be fascinating, it’s far from where I need to be to write my poem. Sometimes, those breadcrumb trails blow away into the woods, and I’m utterly lost. Sometimes, it’s nice to be lost.
Still, poets should be intensely interested in the world around them, whether they’re out on city streets, hiking in the woods, looking through a microscope—or losing themselves in a maze of Google searches. There is so much to learn, and so much to write about. Maybe too much, at least for me. Sometimes all that information can be overwhelming—I want to use all of it!—and that feeds my natural tendency to procrastinate. I have to remind myself that this poem won’t be my last. All those wonderful words can be slipped into other poems. Later.
Google came in handy for this one:
|Canadian Rockies @beautifulsceneries.info
by Barbara Westwood Diehl
So mountains were a disappointment,
and not at all what you imagined.
I’m sorry they were not the blue
they seemed from far away,
during the long ride through Utah
toward the Wasatch Range of the Rockies
and Mount Olympus, and all that time
you had to anticipate something mythic—
the Macedonians appeasing their deities,
killing cattle and goats at the feet of Apollo,
or the Arapaho with bow and arrow,
hunting bison and elk in the foothills—
not the temple and saints of Salt Lake City
with its marshlands, mudflats,
Did we keep the mountains distant for too long,
a blue-white blur of air and ice caps,
letting you believe in clouds as heavenly gates
and not just clouds, as if cirrus and cumulus
were not miracle enough, letting you believe
in mountains made of six-winged seraphim
crying holy, holy, holy, instead of
telling you the whole world is made of faults,
the slow rending and closing of earth
over time, not by divine genesis,
but the brown lip of wounds healing—
instead of telling you there is more wonder
in the guts of a thing, the magma below,
the veins of icemelt, schists
It's Tuesday, poetry prompt day. Let's search the internet for ideas. Try one of these:
- Unusual mountain names.
- Strange laws. (Really, Rhode Island? No one can bite off another person's leg?)
- Cloud vocabulary.
- Recipes using breadcrumbs.
Or make up your own search topic. When you find something that interests you, follow the topic through at least three "clicks." Do you have enough information to get started on a poem?