Poetry Mirrors Life

When the world appears to be crashing down, when we’re going down the drain, it helps—truly!—to realize that others have survived trials and troubles. Poetry can help, especially since Poetry Mirrors Life.

That’s the lesson in today’s post about “Paper Cup”, penned by Jimmy Webb of the 5th Dimension.

A Bit on Background

On 3/25, in the post about Dolly Parton’s “Wildflowers”, I noted the 4 Requirements of Song. Poetry has a role to play in our daily lives ~ it’s not just pretty words.

  • 1] Poetry should speak clearly
  • and 2] from the heart.
  • Music-driven poetry should also provide 3] strong lines that catch our imagination
  • and 4] powerful imagery that helps us visualize the situations.

When a poem achieves these 4 requirements, it echoes to our souls. The reason: Poetry mirrors life in its intensity. Other types of communications—essays, films, novels, blog posts—struggle to reach into their audience’s hearts.

Jimmy Webb’s 1967 “Paper Cup” fulfills these 4 requirements—and also resonates with the current situation.

Lyrics are here and the peppy video is here!

Strong Lines

The extended metaphor in Webb’s poem presents a narrowed little world into which we cage ourselves.

This world satisfies us with a shower stall, running water, a den, and refrigerated air, bland walls that make our lives easy.

Then Webb turns this life around with its bleached, waxed-paper world. We may think we’re in the catbird’s seat, but one day we’re “going down the drain” and won’t care. When trials and troubles hit so hard, we sink into apathy. We deadened ourselves to reality so we can “feel no pain”.

Only through this apathy can we say “life is kind of / groovy in the gutter”.

Powerful Imagery

Webb tells us that such an apathetic life has no purpose. We are living “without a rudder”. We follow the currents of life and never stop to consider what we want. More importantly, we don’t consider what truth is.

The crowd declares what is popular and “hot”. We follow, rat-like, behind the pied piper crowd into a maze that will devour us.

Heart-felt Speech

In the film The Matrix, we saw characters awakened to the myriad things that the mass crowd pummels us with in order to keep us distracted. Our focus is forced onto the temporary and earthly things. Drugs, paychecks, sex, blingy rat-race materialism, crime, taxes, insurance—these things are what we worry about instead of the IDEAS and SOULS we should care about.

Webb is preaching to us, much as Tyler Perry does with his Madea films.

Webb tells us that we may claim freedom, we may shout “freedom”, but all those material possessions and other addictions just put us in a bland round cage. We are “always looking up” since our lives are nothing extraordinary.

Politics of Poetry that Mirrors Life

As Percy Bysshe Shelley said, “Poetry is a mirror” reflecting life. By presenting life, it “awaken[s] and enlarge[s] the mind … a 1,000 un-apprehended combinations of thought.” (from “A Defence of Poetry”)

As Shelley tells us, Poetry Mirrors Life.

Webb wants us to reflect on what we think life should be by comprehending how bleached-out and bland such a life is. This is the same point in Dolly Parton’s “lost in a crowd” Wildflowers, with people too afraid to pursue their goals. In “Paper Cup”, Webb reminds us that a boring constricted life focused on things is no more than living in a gutter.

A better world is available to us. Webb points out the problems of merely existing in a mundane world, with distractors that keep us on the rat-race wheel.

Ha! The wheel in the rat’s cage can be turned sideways to be a round cup that imprisons us. At least the rat can look through his bars.

Parton’s “Wildflowers” tells us how we can escape that “common and close” existence. Never forget that we must uproot ourselves from gardens where we will wither and hitch a ride with the wind.

Webb uses Poetry to mirror Life. He tells us that we have to escape the apathetic life and pursue our goals with passion.

No matter what, we take action to achieve.

Coming Up

On the 15th, more Politics of Poetry as we look at Joni Mitchell’s call of personal change before we can achieve social change.

And from today, the 5th until the 19th, we have the MORE blogs celebrating Easter, running from Palm Sunday to Bright Sunday. Join us!

Celebrate! *Discovering Your Writing*

It’s the 1st anniversary of the bundled Discovering Your Writing”, the epic journey for writers.

cover by Deranged Doctor Design for Writers Ink Books

Designed for writers at any skill level, this four-book bundle of the acclaimed series is a resource-rich compendium of craft information.

4 Books

for Writers

Bundled together

Discovering Your Plot covers six types of plot structure and the necessities of genre expectations. In its detailed examination of the major sections of a novel, it offers clues to pacing, tension and suspense, and sequencing of events.

Discovering Characters guides writers to create individuals rather than cookie-cutter stereotypes. This guidebook is designed to reveal the public and private interiors of characters. Templates and interviews are merely a start when delving into the backstories and relationships of our characters.

To hook readers, savvy writers manipulate cover imagery, titles, and the back-cover market copy. With the right keys, explored in Discovering Your Author Brand, learn how to brand your books, your series, and yourself as writer. A supplementary section covers writing a book trailer—the best guidance for writing any market copy.

Improving your writing craft is simple with the lessons and examples provided in Discovering Sentence Craft. A writer needs much more than grammar and spelling. Figurative and interpretive elements are the first step in creating rich text. Structural elements like opposition, repetition, inversion, and sequencing offer additional methods to polish your words.

At 129,00-plus words, Discovering Your Writing is truly an epic undertaking, a heroic journey necessary for anyone wanting to grow as a writer.

Writer M.A. Lee worked as a journalist and copy writer before pursuing the challenge of teaching high school students the triumvirate of literature, composition, and grammar+. Those years of teaching meant that she continued learning herself, sticking fingers into the writing craft and twisting things around to understand them before conveying that knowledge to students. The Discovering guidebooks for writers are proof that her internal teacher keeps presenting lessons.

Since beginning her self-publishing journey in 2015, M.A. Lee (under her pen names) has published more than 30 works of fiction and nonfiction.

 

A Writing Wonderland and Onward!

 On this week’s episode of The Write Focus:

We have three rules for our writing wonderland.

What keeps us going? Family and friends / kin and kith … more than you  even realize.

Always remember :: writing is a solitary business.

After discussing each of the above, we introduce our next episodes.

It’s a Writing Challenge, all through April.

We post daily from Write a Book in a Month.

Remi Black will check in daily with her project stage, daily word count, and cover by Deranged Doctor Designprogressing word count as well as her speculations on writing in general and the writing business in particular.

Each of the April episodes is running less than 10 minutes. Listen briefly every day or hoard up several episodes for when you fix a quick dinner, drive a short commute, or take a brisk walk.

Lessons for writing happen along the way!

Each episode in April will conclude with the two quotations from professional writers (Hemingway! Heinlein! Atwood! More!!!) that opened and closed her day’s writing sessions.

April 1 :: No Fooling

April 2 :: Change of Plans

April 3 :: Stick with the Plan

April 4 :: Nix Distractions

April 5 :: Watch for Warnings

Listen on the following sites. Bookmark your favorite to come back daily.

Podbean: The Write Focus (podbean.com)

Apple podcast https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-write-focus/id1546738740%20

Spotify https://open.spotify.com/show/4fMwknmfJhkJxQvaaLQ3Gm?si=0GFku2PbShWXiDhRp7JaDQ

YouTube Channel Writers Ink Books – YouTube

Join us!

Resources

Amazon links are given because it’s easy, and for no other reason.

Purchase Write a Book in a Month at Amazon here.  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0848MWXGD

Also mentioned in the first 6 episodes (March 31 to April 5) ~

Patty Jansen’s Self Publishing Unboxed Amazon.com: Self-publishing Unboxed (The Three–year, No-bestseller Plan For Making a Sustainable Living From Your Fiction Book 1) eBook: Jansen, Patty: Kindle Store

Purchase Think/Pro at Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/Think-like-Pro-Advent-Writers/dp/1983248266/

The Think/Pro planner for writers can be purchased here: https://www.amazon.com/Think-Pro-Planner-M-Lee/dp/1983248673/

Spring Renewal ~ Wildflowers

Our poetry series is for poets who love trying new techniques. Visit our site on every 5th  (5th, 15th, and 25th) to see which poem has inspired a lesson in thinking and writing.

Wildflowers :: 4 Requirements of Songs

Dolly Parton’s “Wildflowers” is structured around an extended metaphor.  The song itself has a catchy tune, one of the best by Parton. Find the lyrics here. View a video here: from YouTube.

 

Music with Poetry = Country Music

Country music is the venue of poets who love to play with music, much more so than rock and pop, which may occasionally dip into the tropes.  More than rock, which usually depends on a guitar riff or other elements, country music is known for its strong use of imagery and figurative language. 

Here are four excellent examples of the imagery and figurative language that elevates country music FAR above other genres.

Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire”
https://youtu.be/zI-GGnzSQa4
Kathy Mattea’s “Standing Knee Deep in a River”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LfZ0e5Y5svU
Dixie Chicks’ “Wide Open Spaces”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C9NG7cLNzbs
Garth Brooks’ “The Thunder Rolls”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tdsJI8Wc2D4

Dolly Parton is one of the great performing songwriter/poets. 

More than any other communication, poetry should speak clearly and from the heart.  Music-driven poetry should also provide strong lines and powerful imagery.  “Wildflowers” fits these four requirements.

Strong Lines

An extended metaphor keeps everything tied together. 

The persona is a wildflower.  Unlike other flowers, she refuses to wither.  She has a dream she is determined to pursue, so the wild mountain rose uproots herself from safety and security.  As she says in her refrain, “When a flower grows wild, it can always survive. / Wildflowers don’t care where they grow.”

Powerful Imagery

Parton’s imagery strengthens the extended metaphor into a powerful message.

Wildflowers that remain in the safe but crippling home garden die in the sun.  Rather than become strong themselves, which is the nature of the wildflower, the garden flowers allow themselves to be kept weak.  The sun truly will burn up a plant, but I wonder if this is Parton telling women not to be wholly dependent on a man (sun > son).  She is not anti-man; after all, she “hitched a ride with the wind . . . HE was my friend.”

She presents that men who try to stifle women and women who CHOOSE to be stifled are all weak.  As she writes, the weak and stifled lack a strong independent nature:  The flowers that don’t pursue dreams (these garden-rooted weak women) are “content to be lost in the crowd / . . . common and close . . . no room for growth. / [while] I wanted so much to branch out.”

Clear Heart-felt Message

Perhaps her “fast and wild” upbringing caused her to “uproot herself and take to the road”.  Perhaps the isolation she felt in the garden “so different from me” drove her decision.

Whether either or both, she “never belonged, I just longed to be gone / so the garden one day set me free”.

Who has not struggled with rebelling against conformity?

Who has not felt isolated from those around us?

And who of us has dreamed—yet hesitated to pursue the dream?  We hesitate, for it requires abandoning our safety net.

When writers connect to audience, their words often provide an impetus for us.  “Wildflowers” wants us to let go of whatever withers us, release the anonymity of the mass blob of the crowd, and hitch our dream to the wind.  We are promised room for growth.  We are promised us.

After all,

“Success is a journey, not a destination.  The doing is usually more important than the outcome.” ~ Arthur Ashe Jr. (1943-1993)

Barbed Wires from a Master Songwriter

One more post in our poetry series about relationships. This time, we’re looking at the broken relationship in Sting’s “Fortress Around Your Heart”.

Barbed wires and high walls and a dangerous chasm protect a heart wounded so many times before.

You can find the Lyrics here and the video is HERE!

Sting is above other songwriting poets for this singular reason >

He never seeks the mundane metaphor that everyone else is selecting.

Continue reading “Barbed Wires from a Master Songwriter”

Creativity: Wake Up

Awaken your subconscious to improve creativity!

That’s today on The Write Focus. It’s chapter 6: One Slice of Advice, all about creativity, from Think like a Pro: New Advent for Writers by M.A. Lee

Between Revision and the Final Edit, give a project a brief sleep to awaken the dreaming creativity.

  • Between Revision and the Final Edit, give a Project a brief sleep.
  • This will reawaken the creative muse for this particular project.
  • After the Sleep, Visit any new Ideas about the Project and Discover how to Work them in.

Additional Topics

  • Why to Awaken Creativity
  • How to Awaken Creativity
  • What to Do while Projects Sleep
  • 10 Creative Sparks
  • Repairs / ReStocking / Re-Considering (3 to Track)
  • Ending the Season of Sleep

Listen on ~~

Podbean https://eden5695.podbean.com/e/210-creativity-wake-up-think-like-a-pro-ch-6/?token=99e9f4c396f6b1dad7c627c7fda9be97

Apple podcast https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-write-focus/id1546738740%20

Spotify https://open.spotify.com/show/4fMwknmfJhkJxQvaaLQ3Gm?si=0GFku2PbShWXiDhRp7JaDQ

YouTube Channel Writers Ink Books – YouTube

 

Resources

M.A. Lee’s Think like a Prohttps://www.amazon.com/Think-like-Pro-Advent-Writers/dp/1983248266/

The Think/Pro planner for writers can be purchased here: https://www.amazon.com/Think-Pro-Planner-M-Lee/dp/1983248673/

Tony Buzan on Mindmapping

A YouTube episode Tony Buzan (Mind Mapping) – How To Make the Most of Your Creative Mind : Learning Technologies 2013 – YouTube

Book https://www.amazon.com/Mind-Map-Mastery-Complete-Learning/dp/1786781417/

The Creativity Cure by Drs. Carrie and Aaron Barron https://www.amazon.com/Mind-Map-Mastery-Complete-Learning/dp/1786781417/

Chris Fox 5,000 Words per Hour https://www.amazon.com/000-Words-Hour-Faster-Smarter/dp/1548182494/  

Dean Wesley Smith

Writing Into the Dark https://www.amazon.com/Writing-into-Dark-without-Outline-ebook/dp/B00XIPANX8/

                Course Writing into the Dark on WMG Publishing with Teachable Writing into the Dark | WMG Publishing Lectures and Workshops (teachable.com)

John Ingledew How to Have Great Ideas: a Guide to Creative Thinking https://www.amazon.com/How-Have-Great-Ideas-Creative/dp/1780677294/

Writer’s Block, Anyone?

W.Ink Wednesday for Writers

The monster we call Writer’s Block has 3 manifestations,

and we reveal them on The Write Focus.

It’s a 3-part series on this slimy bugbear > that really doesn’t exist.

All 3 episodes available now. Here’s the link to the 1st episode’s show notes, with links to Podbean, Apple, Spotify, and YouTube: https://thewritefocus.blogspot.com/2021/02/writers-refusal-writers-block-doesnt.html

Information for these three episodes come from Think like a Pro: New Advent for Writers, seven lessons to turn anyone from hobby writer to pro writer. Available here: