Tag Archives: Creative Inspiration

Creative Inspiration: Inspiration in the Sand, by Marty Achatz

Lin-Manuel Miranda was on vacation from performing in his first Broadway musical, In the Heights. He was exhausted and looking for a big, fat book to distract him, so he picked up a copy of Rob Chernow’s biography Alexander Hamilton in the airport bookstore.

Later, sitting on the beach, reading Chernow’s book, Miranda began hearing Hamilton’s life in song. By the time his vacation was over, he was on the road to creating his Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning hip-hop musical Hamilton. Lin-Manuel Miranda discovered his masterpiece like a seashell in the sand.

Inspiration can be found in unlikely places. I’ve discovered poems while jogging, watching the film Citizen Kane, and baking a pecan pie for my mother. In fact, when I feel creatively stuck, I purposely take a break from my normal activities. I do something as far away from poetry as I can, and that is when poetry usually finds me.

If you are looking to jumpstart yourself creatively, here are prompts for how to find your seashell:

Pick up a book by one of your favorite writers. I love the poet Sharon Olds. When I read her poems, I find myself opening up like a tulip bulb.

Go for a walk in the woods or along a beach. If you are a writer, don’t bring your notebook with you. Instead, take your phone or a sketchbook. If you are a photographer, leave behind your camera. Bring a journal instead. Try your hand at a different art form to record your stroll in nature.

Todd Kaneko, author of the acclaimed poetry collection The Dead Wrestler Elegies, once told me his trick for finding his seashell. He said that he comes up with the absolute worst idea in the world (in his case, it was a series of poems about dead professional wrestlers), and then he pursues that worst idea.

When she feels creatively stuck, writer Natalie Goldberg makes a date to meet with one of her writing friends to share new work. Simply having a deadline can be enough of a kick in the pants to get started.

Listen to music that moves or inspires you. For me, recently, it has been the cast recording of Hamilton. However, I am equally moved by Pavarotti singing Nessun Dorma or Billy Joel crooning “Captain Jack.”

Take a class in something you’ve always wanted to try—cooking or quilting or gardening or speaking Italian. Again, it’s about shaking the cobwebs out of your head. Forcing yourself to think “outside the box.”

Like Lin-Manuel Miranda, pick up a book you would never ordinarily read. I recently read a study of journalism at the turn of the 20th century. It ended up providing the background for an essay I wrote for Christmas.

Go someplace you have never been before, even if it’s a simple day trip to a local waterfall. A change of scenery often sparks new ideas. I once struggled with a poem for three months. I didn’t know how to finish it. Then I gave a reading in Sault Ste. Marie. As soon as I checked into my hotel in the Sault, I sat down at the desk in my room and wrote the ending to that poem.

Eat some dark chocolate. Just because chocolate helps everything.

Finding seashells is easy. They come in all shapes. All sizes. Tonight, I’m going to sit down and start reading a 1200-page biography of Charles Dickens that’s on my bookshelf. Who knows? I might find a poem or painting. Or maybe, just maybe, a Broadway musical.

U.P. Poet Laureate Martin Achatz teaches at NMU. He has published a collection of poems, and his work has appeared in anthologies and journals.  Also a musician, Martin has released a CD of Christmas music and essays.  Martin also enjoys hunting for Bigfoot with his son.

Reprinted with permission from Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, Spring 2018 Issue, copyright 2018. All rights reserved.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Creative Inspiration, Marty Achatz

Creative Inspiration: Spinning Your Web, by Roslyn Elena McGrath

Glimpse the shimmer within shimmer within you

that snags your dreams

and digests them into poems,

stories, anecdotes, detailing  your pursuits.

Glimpse the shimmer within shimmer within you

that composes melodies,

visualizes songs, and arranges cantatas

into vessels that carry your essence.

Glimpse the shimmer within shimmer within you

that turns sounds into words, words into stories,

stories into epics and epics into history

that echoes your perspective.

Glimpse the shimmer within shimmer within you

that causes thoughts to grow into patterns,

patterns into beliefs, and beliefs into panoramas

of living art that creates itself.

You are now enchanted here,

the believer of the tales you’ve spun.

Turn this weaving at an angle now

and watch the kaleidoscope rearrange.

The colors shift and change

to elaborate new stories.

Cause and effect continue unbroken

‘til the strand holding them together changes.

Allow one piece of the puzzle to emerge

and the whole puzzle is recreated.

You are a shape-shifter,

turning with the tides set in motion

by your self-created patterns

that shine upon reflection

and remain invisible in the dark,

netting the nuggets that fuel their weave.

Beauty lies in the lace of creation,

its tensile strength and endless adaptability

mesmerizing us deeper into its geometric repetition,

echoing the sound wave its Originator made.

Strum a strand for your own expansion, expression,

create a new form that propagates itself for you.

Witness the shift

of one heart humming

with Original creation,

hanging in the mystery of the Void.

You are endless patterning

recreating itself

with thoughtwave

after thoughtwave.

Channel the changes you desire

into your warp and weft

as part of the Eternal Tapestry

that lives and breathes and moves.

Continue your hum louder.

The chorus grows to support you.

You emerge with poetry

laced throughout your skin

and echoing through your pores

into your cells and out to the world,

a    spinner     spinning       itself       into      glory.

 

Roslyn McGrath facilitates healing experiences through her art, poetry, intuitive counseling, energy healing, workshops and guided meditations. This poem was inspired by her painting Spider Woman, and will be part of her meditation CD series. Listen to other meditations, view art and learn more at  www.intuitivelearningcreations.com.

This article was reprinted with permission from the Fall 2013 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, copyright 2013. All rights reserved.

Leave a comment

Filed under Creative Inspiration, Poetry, Roslyn McGrath

From Family Treasures to Art

A Creative Inspiration article by Christine Saari

It all began with letters. Letters my father had written to me, his five-year-old daughter on an Austrian mountain farm, before he fell on the Russian front in April 1944. Heartrending letters about being a soldier far away. Letters of love and longing. Letters I could never read without dissolving in tears.

These letters were long my private treasure. But every time another war started somewhere, in Bosnia, in the Gulf, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, I thought of all the soldier fathers who missed their children, of all the children who feared for their fathers’ safety, of warriors who did not return.

One day it struck me – I knew I needed to share these letters, with my grandchildren, with young students, with as many people as possible.

That was the beginning of the inspiration to create “Family Album,” a collection of artful boxes, suitcases, bags and books that would incorporate family letters, documents and artifacts.

These mixed-media pieces would not only tell the story of three generations of my European family, but also the story of others.

They would tell the story of life and death, of celebration and grief, of childhood memory and the journey of immigration, of tradition and change.

I have been working on this project for nearly 20 years now and I keep being inspired in unexpected ways. When my father-in-law died and we found his WWII letters he had sent from Europe, I was struck with the recognition that our fathers were enemies. The result was “Make Love, not War”: three boxes containing letters – my father’s, my husband Jon’s father’s and our own love letters. When my grandson was baptized in the gown my grandmother had sewn, I created a triptych showing three generations of children wearing the same dress, three mothers in different parts of the globe linked by this dress. When we received Finnish Bibles after an aunt of Jon’s had died, I knew they needed a place to be kept. This became “Lutheran Songbooks and Bibles.” That led to “Catholic Childhood,” another container for treasures to honor my father’s and my own upbringing.

Frequently, the inspiration has come from an occurrence that jogged my memory of photographs and artifacts that needed to be in their own shrine. Maybe you have old letters, photographs, your grandfather’s shaving mug, your great aunt’s hair comb or hat? Don’t throw them out! Don’t leave them in a cardboard box in the closet! Honor them. Preserve them for your grandchildren and their children. Find a way to bring them out into the open, to make new from old. If you let yourself be inspired by the spirit of these items, ideas will come to you on how to create a visible record of your family story. You will see the links between the past and the present and you will feel connected to the rest of humanity.

And, do write letters, real letters, written by hand, sent in an envelope with a stamp. They will be priceless keepsakes for your descendants. They will tell them who you were, and remind them of their own place in the long chain of generations.

Christine Saari is a Marquette, MI artist, an Austrian and American citizen, and a packrat.

Reprinted from Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, Winter 2010 – 2011.

Leave a comment

Filed under Art, Christine Saari, Creative Inspiration, Family Legacies, Family Treasures