Well, I finished the first stage of my project back in June. I studied 20 poets and wrote a total of 59 poems. For the past week, I have been editing the poems that I saw potential in. There are 28 of those, of varying styles and for various purposes. Some of them I intend to look for publication on online journals and whatnot, some of them I will stick to publishing myself on my own blog, and some of them are just very personal poems that I don’t want to share with the world just yet. I think my artistic poems were centered more at the beginning and in the middle. Close to the end, my poetry started becoming much more prose-like, but still very honest. Most of my best poetry is free verse, but I do have a pantoum and an ode that I really liked, as well as some rhyming poetry that turned out well. I also think I could turn one of the poems into a spoken word performance, which I was not expecting at all.
This next section of poets include Rumi, Ella Wheeler Wilcox, William Carlos Williams, Mirabai, Emily Dickinson, Rabindranath Tagore, Langston Hughes, and Anna Akhmatova. I had fewer poets that I actually connected with. Williams and Mirabai were especially difficult to connect with, and as such, my writing wasn’t as good. Generally, I write only 2-4 poems for each poet, but for Dickinson I wrote 1 poem, and for Rumi I wrote 9 poems (most of them were single quatrains, like he writes). I have written a total of 26 poems for these 8 poets for a total (so far) of 44 poems.
I am 7 days into my project, which means that I have 7 poets under my belt. I have read John Milton, Dante Alighieri, Emily Bronte, Charles Baudelaire, Pablo Neruda, Lord Alfred Tennyson, and Elizabeth Bishop, and have written 2-4 poems for each of them for a grand total (so far) of 18 poems. I have written 2 sonnets, 2 odes, a sestina, a villanelle, a poem with terza rima rhyme patterns, a pantoum, several free verse, and several generally rhyming poems. My greatest method of experimentation with form was writing poems with the rhythm of a waltz and tango, modified after Tennyson’s composition of poetry to the pattern of his walking.
It is no great secret that writers are readers before they ever pick up the pen. And because of this, every writer is influenced by the people they read. The greatest writers in history have hints of other writers in their verses: Shakespeare had Petrarch, and Petrarch had Ovid, just to name a few. In this project, I will be following in the footsteps of the master poets: immersing myself in their lives, reading their works, and writing my own poetry. More specifically, each day for 20 days, I will choose a poet to study, read a brief biography for context, and then spend time reading their poetry to truly get a feel of how they wrote and what they wrote about. After this, I will spend the rest of my time writing my own poetry in imitation or as a response to what I read. At its core, this is a project in seeking inspiration for my writing from the people who wrote most successfully and learning from their experiences and my own. I believe that the writing process will become easier for me and that my writing itself will become more eloquent, more sophisticated, and generally better by the end of this project. This personal creative experiment is basically about looking into what it took for others to write that which is still meaningful and try to create that myself.