It’s National Poetry Writing Month! Tag “youngauthorsofarizona” if you’d like me to reblog your work!

The creative process requires an author to balance between the parameters that give their work definition, and the freedom that gives their work spirit. As young authors, we sometimes find ourselves sticking too closely to our comfort zone, or spiraling wildly out of it–and neither approach produces our best work.

 Recently, I’ve caught myself sticking to a constant form, regardless of what best suits a piece. To combat this, I made up an exercise in which I force myself to follow a set form that differs from my norm. I do my best to express what I want to within the form I’m uncomfortable with. When I’ve gotten as far as I can with that, I start playing around with that structure, shifting it around until it says what I want it to.            

I’ve also found myself shying away from the topics that are most meaningful to me, but it’s difficult to force myself to write about things I’m so afraid of mistreating, and I don’t think it’s necessarily healthy. I’m trying to write about topics tangential to these, slowly working my way to those tender spots. 

So, a question to think about: in what ways do you restrict your own work? What methods have you tried to break out of those habits?

The dresser in the empty bedroom is stocked with pictures
from times before I was born.
I sift, shift, shiver.
Memories swelling like a gasoline rainbow lie snared in the
between morning glory and midnight insanity –
there are no absolutes.

The valleys of my spine are artifacts tumbled through time
If you trace my two halves far enough you will find
My violin string fingers trapped in the folds between
my grandmother’s garden
and the ship that houses my great uncle’s stowaway spirit.
But buried beneath the soil is a heart that will not bend to

Anchored, armored.
Come, come look at your country.

“Something Like Hope,” Haley Lee (Portfolio Gold Winner, 2014)

Cupid placed his bow upon her mouth
and left it there for safekeeping.
She guards it with a quirk of her lip;
infatuation tucked into the corner
where she holds her cigarettes.
Sweet nothings perch
on the swell of her smirk.
She tips ash forget-me-nots,
blows smoke ring love letters
around frantic first times,
bittersweet goodbyes and
better things to come.
She blows a kiss: an arrow flies.

Nailah Matthews, “Cupid’s Bow”

Goodbye little boy who gave me sausage sticks.
Goodbye pretty girl who helped me sweep.
Goodbye Happy the jindo dog.
Goodbye hibiscus plant, dangling laundry, pots of kimchi,
mechanical fan, rickety bike, black-and-white newspaper,
Things and people and places woven into my every hour.

I will miss you all.

Julie Cho, “Farewell to the South”