Friday, June 24

Posted by Laurel Garver on Friday, June 24, 2016 10 comments
Image credit: earl53 at
Years ago I picked up a gem at a used bookstore, Georgia Heard's Writing Toward Home. The title spoke to my identity crisis of the moment: My parents had retired to Florida, overwhelming me with a sense "you can't ever go home again." Heard's pithy and poetic chapters on developing a creative life are worth savoring. In a chapter entitled "Where does poetry hide?" she includes this poem:

Valentine for Ernest Mann
by Naomi Shihab Nye

You can't order a poem like you order a taco.
Walk up to a counter, say "I'll take two"
and expect it to be handed to you
on a shiny plate.

Still, I like your spirit.
Anyone who says, "Here's my address,
write me a poem," deserves something in reply.
So I'll tell you a secret instead:
poems hide. In the bottoms of our shoes,
they are sleeping. They are the shadows
drifting across ceilings the moment
before we wake up. What we have to do
is live in a way that lets us find them....
(Qtd. in Heard, Georgia. Writing Toward Home. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1995. p. 10.)

I found tremendous encouragement in Heard's commentary on it. She says, "We don't necessarily need to change our lives around to be writers or to be writing more. We must change the way we look at our lives. By looking at the small, everyday circumstances and happenings, we find ideas to fill volumes."

Where have you found poetic or fictional material hiding in the everyday? Have you ever had a change in perspective--how you look at your life--that opened up a well of ideas for you?


  1. You'll be surprised, but you can order a poem, even a good one. Not at a counter, but there are talented people out there who have translated their writing talent into money. If you wish to celebrate someone or something with a poem you just have to order it from them. There are also those writers/poets that singers or composers turn to for a poem.

    1. I think you might be reading this a bit too literally. She means you can't demand that your own creativity cough up perfection on demand, you have to quietly stalk the good ideas, be open to them coming to you.

  2. This was a wonderful post. I want to get that book. I need something to revive my creativity lately.

    1. It's almost 20 years old now, but who knows, a used bookseller might have copies available through Amazon marketplace.

  3. Excellent advice, and so true! Sometimes I think we need to get out of our own way, relax, and recharge to be truly creative. Glad you shared this.

    1. Definitely, creativity has to be invited rather than have harsh demands made of it.

  4. Wow! I love this. I've been taking more pictures lately, just of every day things, and I've found that it's opened up my eyes to the vibrancy of life around me. Colors seem to pop out of the gray and ideas well up from momentary observations.

    1. Wordless creativity has a way of helping the words flow, doesn't it? Glad you found a new outlet that give you joy.