I’ve always fancied myself something of a poet.
This may be more than a little presumptuous on my part: I’ve never formally studied poetry; I’ve never taken courses in it beyond what was covered in my grade 11 creative writing class.
(Admittedly, the class in grade 11 was the only in-class instruction I’ve ever had in prose as well. However, I did spend from about 2001 to 2004 reading every creative writing how-to book I could get my hands on, which, to me, likewise counts as a prose education.)
Yet, everything I learned about poetry during that grade 11 writing class just seemed to resonate with me: poetic meter; unexpected metaphors, similes and rhymes; beginnings, middles, endings, and points of view, just like in prose; denotation; connotation; the sound of the words vs. their literal meaning.
All these lessons have also come to be parlayed into the prose of my novel-in-progress, to which I’m always keen to lend a poetic edge.
And conversely, the prose of my novels-in-progress always seems to inspire me to write poetry. In 2003, for my first (shelved, someday to be rewritten) novel, in (self-indulgent) emulation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, I composed some 18 poems/songs of the world in which the story was set (including one written in alliterative-accentual verse – or at least my primitive understanding of it – because that’s what Tolkien did).
For my current novel-in-progress, I’ve written two poems.
2003 was only one of my prolific poetic phases. 1996 was another – perhaps the most carefree one – while I was still in grade 11: in additional to my writing class poetry assignments, I wrote an ongoing, rhyming epic starring my best friend and myself in our various made-up adventures with our favourite book and movie characters (i.e. poetic fan fiction).
My most solemn phase was in 2006 while in complicated, unrequited love, which saw me scribbling all the angst in verse I’d missed out on in the diary of my teenage self.
I hadn’t written any other poetry since.
Until some two months ago.
What’s in those mountains?
After five years of living in mountainous Vancouver, BC, I one day randomly thought up a haiku about the mountains while cycling to work:
Sleep-capped in snow, wrapped in mist,
Rising late this morn.
One haiku quickly turned into three: two weeks to the day later, I entered a writing challenge hosted by sci-fi/horror author, Chuck Wendig, entitled “Three Haikus Tell One Story”. After editing my three haikus for a whole week (!), I finally submitted my entry. Once again, I was motivated by mountains:
What’s in those mountains?
Night winds whip down in whispers –
Words of anguish, pain,
Solitude. Up now
I struggle, falter; suffer
My own sorrows no
Longer echoes heard
Below. Now the hills lean close,
I didn’t win the challenge, but by now, the mountain Muse had firmly taken hold of me. I dug out one of my angstiest (and, hence, favourite) laments from 2006 and reworked it. It’s essentially the same poem – now it just contains a theme of mountains rather than of cities:
When Mountains Fall
If it all ended tomorrow –
The fall of mountains at the last of days
Dawning as shamefacedly hot as we’d greenly feared
And hoped –
Scattered among the wreckage, you’d find
Broken phrases of all I wanted to tell you
Still twinkling like crystal veins shattered to shards
And sharp enough to bloody both our fingers, even now,
Moments before they’re forever buried in ash
Stirred by a breeze as gentle as
A private sigh of relief.
(Image source #1, #2, #3 and #4)
8 thoughts on “The Mountains Became My Muse”
There’s always something special about a beautiful landscape that will always help the words to flow. 🙂
Hi Jennifer, thanks for the comment. You’re totally right, and in particular nature inspires me to poetry. Pretty much every one I’ve ever written has drawn a comparison between whatever the poem was actually about and nature.
Because there is so much more to see if you look with more than your eyes 🙂
You certainly know a lot more about poetry than I do, Janna. You are definitely a poet (you don’t need a degree to be creative) 😉
Dianne, that’s a quote for the ages: You don’t need a degree to be creative. Everyone needs to remember that. 😀
WOW – I never thought I’d be quoted! YAY 😀
I don’t know much about poetry, but I believe I can recognize a writing voice, and you have one for poetry. Beginners don’t have a writing voice.
Thanks, Eric – I appreciate that. 🙂 I really don’t know much about poetry either, just that I like the way certain words and sounds play together, and that nature is a bountiful muse.