telling our stories

the fox came every evening to my door

asking for nothing. my fear

trapped me inside, hoping to dismiss her

but she sat till morning, waiting.

at dawn we would, each of us,

rise from our haunches, look through the glass

then walk away.

did she gather her village around her

and sing of the hairless moon face,

the trembling snout, the ignorant eyes?

child, I tell you now it was not

the animal blood I was hiding from,

it was the poet in her, the poet and

the terrible stories she could tell.

–Lucille Clifton

5 Ways To Get Past Your Poetic Writer’s Block

By Ty Jacoby

As poets and writers we all know that it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been writing poetry, how great you are at creating long and intricate pieces, or even how many stories and experiences you have to tell…we all get writer’s block sometimes.

Writer’s block is defined in the dictionary as a “temporary condition in which a writer finds it impossible to proceed with the writing of any work”. Sounds about right, sometimes it seems like there’s a literal block inside your brain preventing your ideas from communicating themselves with first you and then your pen.Often times this will stop you from being able to write for days and sometimes weeks on end. Trust me it’s not fun, especially when you have deadlines to make.

So how exactly do you overcome your poetic block? Well, in just a few simple steps you will be on your way to beating writer’s block in no time.

Think of a topic that you’re passionate about

What gets you fired up? What topics make you feel 10 different emotions all at once? Whatever it is, identify it immediately. It could be anything that you have an opinion on, want to tell a story about, or have a unique interest in. The faster you pinpoint what you want your piece to be about, the better. Try not to spend more than 10-20 minutes thinking of a topic, not only is it a waste of your writing time but poets go wrong when they spend days trying to find the best topic to write about. The best thing is whatever hits you the most.

Start Writing Down Key Ideas

Grab a piece of paper and pen or pencil of your choice…no, do not write anything down in the notes of your smartphone…and start jotting down words and phrases that come to your mind when you think of this topic. It gives you almost a list of things that can be used once you actually start to write your piece. Writing things down on paper also makes you think more critically and it helps you remember your ideas better. Things you write down could be anything! Even rhyming phrases. For example sometimes when I write songs, one line of the verse or chorus could come to my head and I just think to myself, “I should write that down”. Next thing you know by the time I go to the write the song I’ve got all my best lines down on paper for me to just organize into a flow of lyrics.

Write and Don’t Think

Don’t worry, you’ll have plenty of time to think later. One of the worst things about writer’s block is that feeling of being stuck because everything you think to put down on paper doesn’t “sound right” to you. It prevents you from getting the pen going, and once you get the pen going it gets easier to keep writing. Therefore the most important thing is to just start writing and don’t worry so much about the technicalities until you’re done and you’re ready to revise. That’s what revision is for, so you can think, but when originally writing a piece you want your freshest and most raw thoughts to be on paper first and foremost, so that you’re not contemplating the perfect first line for hours.

Look For Inspiration in Things

Having a hard time finding inspiration? Watch a movie, read a book or talk to some fellow poets. Sometimes when I’m stumped on what to write my poem on, I’ll watch slam poetry on YouTube to get me inspired. A lot of times I’ll just watch some of  my favorite poets perform and it somehow loosens up my brain a little bit so that I can start writing. Reading short poems or poetry books usually can help too.

Take a Break

You know how they say if you can’t figure out a puzzle you’re trying to solve, put it down and come back to it later? Sometimes we tend to focus too much to the point where we’re frustrated and not seeing any more answers or clues. However upon returning later, you find things you didn’t see before and it’s easier to think now that you’ve unloaded all that pressure. It’s actually pretty true, and the same can be so when you’re writing a poem.  So putting down a poem and coming back to it later is never bad. You may even think of some other great lines you could put in there while you’re away for a while.

All in all writers block is a very common thing, even in poetry and can be overcome by taking these small steps. Happy Writing!

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The Pressures.

(Love twists

the young man. Having seen it

only once. He expected it

to be, as the orange flower

leather of the poet’s book.

He expected

less hurt, a lyric. And not

the slow effortless pain

as a new dripping sun pushes

up out of our river. )


having seen it, refuses

to inhale. “It was a

green mist, seemed

to lift and choke

the town.”

–Imamu Amiri Baraka

Bordering On 5 AM

It is bordering on 5am

here I sit

fully awake

listening to the mundane hum of a ceiling fan

filter into the sounds

a house makes

when no ones moving

A white spider crawled from the depths of the couch

cross my sheet

& still I didn’t flinch

I simply sat

I sit here

memorizing every piece of furniture

staring at the ripped out stitches of an old couch

until the unexpected gut urge

to seek pen & paper

begin to twitch my fingertips

its an idea

premature obscure and cloudy

but as my search narrows


fog becomes elaborate clods packed with words

my eyes would not shut

my mind would not stop placing the words

seeing them in my head as if I had already written it

They floated there for hours

through the background of

headphones TV and conversation

until even now as day breaks into night

with nothing but my heart beat

to remind me that I am still alive

even that seems to thump words

as I conclude my search

when my eyes finally rest on my notebook

Divinely inspired is what he calls it

The peak hours allow sufficient silence

as I think at times my thoughts run so deep

that consumption ensues

I begin to feel every story I breathe

life to

from the time it enters my mind

to the moment its on the page

it is me

invented or not

the characters have faces that I can see

& I must write their story

There is a reason

for sleeping late with scribbles still swirling in my head

for sitting here

to know that now bordering on 6am

sitting here blankly staring at the floral patterns on the couch

isn’t crazy

I write to fill a void

I write because

it is the only remedy

for a long sleepless night

of ignoring a force

that commands me to write

even now

my eyelids sink & I feel sleep

meaning my thoughts may rest

knowing they are held safely within black binding

later to be shared

with those who are willing to listenimages