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by Hedgebrook Guest

For poets, inspiration can be found almost everywhere—at the laundromat with the stranger who looks like Albert Einstein, on a roadtrip passing silos and fields of white geese, taking a walk and finding the lines to a poem have wandered into your head. The online world also offers inspiration with science articles on NASA’s Kepler planet-hunting spacecraft or a virtual walk through an online museum, but we can find ourselves taking a step out of our poetic work as the online world comes with its distractions and pop-up ads, it can be harder to find what inspires.

Below is a list of places (both online and off) where you can find a little inspiration to help inspire your poems and help you live a little more creatively—

1. Try The Poet Tarot & Guidebook and/or The Poet Tarot App (for iPhone & Android):

The Poet TarotThe Poet Tarot is a creativity tool for when you need a little guidance or creative inspiration. We designed the deck at Two Sylvias Press in 2014, but they are still a deck I draw from daily to help me with my creative projects, my creative life, and even my poems. To make these cards even easier to take with you and use, we also just turned the Poet Tarot deck into an app, so now I have the mobile version to come along with me and it’s a great conversation starter at parties and poetry readings when it’s not helping you find direction.

Poet Tarot App







2. Create a Mini Retreat:

Sometimes you just can’t take a week off to go on a writing residency, but maybe you have an afternoon where you could hide yourself in your favorite writing space, turn off the internet, and just write. My friends and I have created Mini Writing Retreats (you can see a photo of one here), where we arrive in our comfy clothes with snacks and a few writing prompts, and we spend the day together writing. Dedicate some time specifically for your writing (even it put it on your calendar!) then pull yourself out of your real world for a few hours or a whole day and let the poems come.

3. Use Prompts to Write a Poem a Day:

Daily PoetWriting prompts have always been a good way for me to create new work. A couple years ago, Martha Silano and I wrote The Daily Poet: Day-By-Day Prompts For Your Writing Practice, based on prompts we’d created from own writing dates so poets could write a poem every day of the year. Or if you just want to try for a month, I created this list of 30 prompts for National Poetry Month, or anytime you want to write a poem.


4. Read a Poem a Day:

So many times I get my poetry inspiration from reading other’s work and finding new poets to fall in love with. One of my favorite places to do this is Poetry Daily. Another favorite place is the Poem of the Day project at Poets.org. Each morning, before you check your email, visit these sites to let a poem begin your day.

5. Eavesdrop:

One way I find myself getting new ideas for poems is listening to conversations while riding the ferry. Listen to the stories people are telling each other, listen to the words they use and ask yourself if they are words you’ve ever considered using in a poem. Find one phrase someone said and use it as the first line to begin a new poem.

6. Go Back In Time To Be Visually Pleased:

When I just need a break from the world, I go onto New York City Library digital collection and browse images I didn’t even know I was interested (such as the Robert N. Dennis collection of Stereoscopic Views). Or sometimes I browse through old Life Magazine photos (all digitally uploaded for your viewing pleasure). Many times I just let my mind wander then I find myself using these images in my poems.

7. Nap, Meditate, or Slip into Savasana:

Sometimes our minds become too full and overwhelmed with the To Do Lists of life and we just need some quiet time to let the inspiration come. Take 10 or 20 minutes to lay down or close your eyes while in a chair. Think about a poem or a manuscript you’re working on and see what thoughts fill your mind. Or try to visualize a new poem in your mind and if you fall asleep or move into that “Alice in Wonderland place” between sleep and awake, just allow your imagination to go; either way, you’ll have a new poem or will feel refreshed for the rest of your day.

8. Listen to a Podcast or Plath:

Plath PortraitWhen I go for a walk, many times I put on my favorite podcast, New Letters on the Air, and listen to interesting interviews with poets and writers. Or there’s the Poetry Foundation monthyly podcast featuring poets writing today. Sometimes when I’m at home writing, I’ll pull up videos or audio recordings of poets reading their poems. A few favorites of mine—Sylvia Plath reading from Ariel, Anne Sexton reading “Her Kind,” and Frank O’Hara reading “Having a Coke With You.”

9. Find Another Art Form:

Sometimes working with your hands can inspire the mind. Consider spending an evening drawing in a sketchbook or sign up for a day class on glassblowing. Exploring a new art will bring you into “beginner’s mind” where the world looks fresh and you are learning new techniques as well as new words, which might find your way into your work.

10. Set the Timer for 7 Minutes:

Sometimes too much time is curse. Set your timer for 7 minutes, find a journal or your laptop and write. If you don’t know where to begin, grab a book of poems and use a line to start with (make sure the credit the poet if your poem every becomes published!) Or just write, “I remember” and go from there.

Inspiration is all around you. Much of the time, it’s refreshing our own vision on the world, seeing our lives and what’s around us as material and allowing ourselves the sense of play, even on our busiest days.

Happy National Poetry Month, friends!


About the Author:


Kelli Russell AgodonKelli Russell Agodon’s third collection of poems, Hourglass Museum, was a Finalist in the Washington State Book awards and shortlisted for the Julie Suk Poetry Prize honoring the best book of poems published by a small press. She also the coauthor of The Daily Poet: Day-By-Day Prompts For Your Writing Practice. Her other books are Letters from the Emily Dickinson Room (Winner of the Foreword Book of the Year in Poetry and Finalist for the 2010 Washington State Book Prize), Small Knots, Geography, and Fire On Her Tongue: An Anthology of Contemporary Women’s Poetry.

Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, O, The Oprah Magazine, Prairie Schooner, New England Review, as well as on “The Writer’s Almanac” with Garrison Keillor’s and in Keillor’s Good Poems for Hard Times anthology. Kelli is the Cofounder of Two Sylvias Press where she works as an editor and book cover designer. She also is the Co-Director of Poets on the Coast: A Retreat for Women Poets. She lives with her family in a small seaside town in the Pacific Northwest where she is an avid paddleboarder and hiker. www.agodon.com / www.twosylviaspress.com

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Hedgebrook supports visionary women writers whose stories and ideas shape our culture now and for generations to come. The opinions expressed here are not necessarily representative of the opinions of Hedgebrook, its staff or board members.


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