My friend Webster defines Inspiration ~ 1. To stimulate a person to create or other activity or to express certain ideas. 2. To fill with or to instill a certain feeling. 3. To communicate ideas etc. by a divine agency.
That’s the work of an artist – through poetry, music, photography or any other forms of artistic, creative expression.
But the question I often get, and I think others do as well, is ‘Where do your ideas come from?’ The answer comes down to the second word in the first definition – stimulate. Webster says a stimulus is something that rouses a person to activity or energy or produces a reaction in an organ or tissue of the body.
That pretty much allows that stimulus can be anything!
This is a pair of my Grandma’s shoes. They were such a part of her that when I was given the opportunity to take a memento, her shoes were the first things I looked for. I knew one day I’d write a poem about them. Several years later I finally did. Sometimes the inspired feeling is love or nostalgia.
Fellow poet, Rebecca, is intrigued by wind – how it moves, its varying strengths, etc. – so she’s writing a series of poems featuring this part of nature. The sensation she talked about and that came through in her poems was wonderment.
Last month during Thursday Night Poets, Susan brought a beautiful poem entitled, Blue. It was about casting sins and worries overboard, so not a poem about depression, but about peace and serenity. We asked what inspired the poem and she started telling us about her couch. Huh? She went on with this great, humorous story about this baby blue that she once fell in love with, painted a room and bought carpet . . . and then so hated the color she could barely stay in her apartment and had to move. Susan is from England so her accent and droll British wit added to the story. But now she has this beautiful blue couch that she never thought she’d like. And while the poem wasn’t about the couch, or even the color itself, they were the seeds for her poem.
And sometimes the emotion or feeling that rises is just a sense of curiosity. My friend, poet and artist Jonathan Rice, has this ability to look at the mundane, the odd, and the everyday stuff of life and create poems and abstract art. Here’s where the pennies in the urinal come in, from his poem Pennies in a Urinal.
Thought maybe someone made a wish
but with no fountain
or wishing well nearby
he chose the urinal instead.
Maybe he made three wishes
or a political statement.
I live in the South
so pissing on Lincoln
would make sense.
. . . ”
from Jonathan’s latest collection, Killing Time, Main Street Rag Publishing www.mainstreetrag.com
Inspiration instills and fills certain feelings, communicates ideas. But before an artist can fill, instill, or communicate with others, we must first experience those things within ourselves. So we keep our eyes, ears, and hearts open.