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January, 2008

Awaken The Author Within

Inspiration? Just Call It A Ping
Questioning it causes posterior pain
By  James Strecker

Unexpected pings from life inspires poets and writers to think outside the box.
hich is worse?

Being asked, "What inspires you when you write?" Or hemorrhoids?

Most writers I know would need a few minutes to consider the two options since both are a pain in the butt. Why? Well, for one, the question allows no manageable, concise, consistently accurate, or easily understood answer. Even more fundamental, what does the question really mean?

After all, we live in a culture that thinks in simple, linear causalities and functions as if anyone, whatever their experience and level of personal integrity, has a valid opinion. We live in a culture that wants simple answers, not the answers it takes lots of work, and maybe a lifetime, to understand.

In other words, inspiration has different meanings to the writer who struggles with it and the observer who, sometimes with genuine interest and sometimes in idleness, asks for inspiration to come clean and explain itself.

For my part, when I give public readings and the dreaded question emerges, I sometimes quote a jazz musician friend and say, "Everything, man!"

Or, more often, I will resort to my hypothesis of the inspirational ping, one that contends we receive inspiration of many kinds, each with varying impact, in several areas of our psyche. Some unannounced and uninvited inspiration goes ping and the poet in us, usually surprised, wants to do something with it.

Sometimes we feel we know how the ping affects the poetry we write but more often we donít. We just sense that some change in what/how/why/when we write owes some gratitude to this moment of insight or connection, this moment of aha!

Iíve had a whole bunch this week -- unexpected pings that I sense might in some small or large way affect the future writing I do. Or maybe they will affect how I experience my life. Or maybe, though I doubt it, they will prove themselves to be just a momentary thrill.

Take reading novelist Milan Kunderaís Testaments Betrayed (Harper Perennial), a passionate book that demands unwavering respect for an artistís underlying intentions for each artistic creation. Itís potent stuff to read and, as a result, one feels compelled to demand more of oneís own integrity, personal truth, and responsibility to writing.

Or re-reading British psychiatrist Anthony Storrís The School Of Genius which was re-published in America as Solitude: A Return To The Self (The Free Press). In our relationship-obsessed society, Storr refreshingly sees solitude not as neurotic but as a healthy and productive option to seeking fulfillment through others.

For Storr, creativity needs space to do its thing, but the reader who writes must then ask," Do I have the guts and the creative goods to be alone." As with Kundera, Storr holds up a mirror that reflects the existential responsibility of a writer.

As it demolishes confining definition as country music, Rodney Crowellís CD Fateís Right Hand (Epic) proves as much an unrelenting existential re-assessment of self and surrounding as it proves a consummate artistic achievement.

What more can an artist do than go looking for the truth and then tell it, as Rodney does, with art and without compromise. No surprise: one of Rodneyís songs describes "a man in the mirror." Each cut could be a book and thatís a ping.

The ping of Andrea Menardís CD of her one-woman musical The Velvet Devil (Spirit River) is the disarmingly genuine clarity, both artistic and spiritual, at the heart of it. Quite natural in several idiomatic directions --I first heard her on a CD titled Jazz Divas-- Menard, a Metis born in Manitoba, Canada, achieves what many singers like Streisand et al cannot seem to do.

Menard caresses both heart and ear with solid, richly flexible and nuanced singing that never succumbs to mannerism or affectation. She also co-writes her own songs as unique worlds full of grace, full of humanity, but also ripe with earthy kick-ass truths of living.

One ping of Crowell and Menard is what they imply: be true to your life and your art.

An inspiration to any writer, poet or otherwise.

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James Strecker is the author or editor of two dozen books and CD-ROMs.His collaborators as a poet include artist Harold Town, in the books Black on jazz and Pas De Vingt on ballet, photographer Bill Smith, and composers Barend Schipper and Wolfgang Bottenberg. He is also a journalist and a human development consultant. He is currently writing a book on creativity and is seeking a publisher for his book for writers. email:

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© Freelance Writing Organization - International 1999-2049

IN This Issue
The Long Life Of Poetry
Marketplaces For Your Poetry
Haiku: Highest Art
What Am I Doing Wrong?
Lyrically Speaking
Writing Poems
The Mind Of A Poet
A Poem Is A Little Path
Seeing Like A Poet
Speaking In Tongues (Excerpt)

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Whose Books Are Turning Into Movies?
Bald Ego
Mouse Over To Pause

Writerís Block
The path to inspiration starts
Upon the trails weíve known;
Each writerís block is not a rock,
But just a stepping stone.

Poetry Is Not
Penned to the page
Waiting for us to admire.
It is only a lonely thought
Caught by tears on fire.

Silent Echoes
A quiet rhyme upon a page
Is what a poet gives;
Some gentle words whispered in trust
To see if memory lives.

Bard From Deadlines
What makes a poem finally work
Is not the time it takes;
Itís how the poet used the muse
To prophet from mistakes.

Be Mused
The art and craft of poetry
Are not so far apart;
The craft comes from the cunning,
The rest comes from the heart.

Fine Vintage
Donít plant your poem on the page
As though youíre hanging drapes;
Itís shape and flow should come and grow
Like wild summer grapes.

Getting It Write
Writers write what they know best,
Their passions, fears, and dreams;
Writers rarely write about
What other call their ďthemes.Ē

Double Vision
A writerís life is paradox,
Itís more than what it seems;
We write of our reality,
The one inside our dreams.

The echo of a promise,
The thunder of a sigh,
The music of a memory,
A child asking why.

Letter Perfect
Twenty six symbols arranged on a page
Can send a soul to heaven or torment it with rage,
Can free a fragile world or hold it in its net--
The power and the magic of the mighty alphabet.

The Write of Passage
The jump from writing just for fun
To getting paid for it
Begins when you first realize
You know youíll never quit.

It is not the magic of his wings
That sets us free from our bond.
It is the muse within ourselves
That lets our words lift us beyond.

Photo Poet
Consider your mind the darkroom,
Consider your life the lens,
Consider your eye the camera
On whose focus the poem depends.

Rising Moon
A poem is a rising moon
Shining on the sea,
An afterglow of all we know,
Of all we hope to be.

Star Light
Writing a poem,
Reaching a star,
In making good art
We find who we are.

Spider Web
A poem is a spider web
Spun with words of wonder,
Woven lace held in place
By whispers made of thunder.

The final draft upon the screen,
At last my poemís through;
A verse of only four short lines--
I rewrote twenty-two!

Read All Of Charles Ghigna's Poetry at

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