I'm pleased to introduce you to poet and new mom, Sage Cohen, author of Writing the Life Poetic, an Invitation to Read and Write Poetry.
Read on for Sage's take on:
- the "life poetic"
- freewriting as spiritual practice
- advice to first-book authors
1. Sage, as I read your new book, Writing the Life Poetic
(Writer's Digest, 2009), I thought that many writers--poets, fiction
and non-fiction writers alike--would benefit from reading your ideas.
You've written a wise and playful companion to the writer's life! Was this your plan for the book as you sat down to write it? Did your focus change as you got further into the project?
Thank you for your kind words, Marla! The beauty of having a book in
circulation is learning from readers what that book is about. I set out
to write a book specifically for poets -- to invite them into the
delight of a poetic way of life. And I've heard from many readers who
do not identify as poets -- or even as writers -- that this book spoke
to them and helped them better appreciate the pleasure and process of
writing. I am grateful that writers of all genres are finding it to be
2. What is "a life poetic?"
The details will be different for each person, but there is one key theme: receptivity. A life poetic is attuned to the sounds and sights and feelings and language of daily living. It is moderated by a choice to become awake to all that is moving through us, and then tending to or exploring that movement with words. It is a life that echoes our experiences in image and metaphor, rhythm and sound. The life poetic transcends ordinary states of mind through a curiosity for the undiscovered, a dash of danger, a willingness to make and break rhythms and rituals and a willingness to investigate the uncomfortable. By turning our sails into the wind and saying "yes" to whatever life brings us, we are welcoming the life poetic.
3. You write about the importance of cultivating curiosity and receptivity to the world around us. What is one of your favorite ways to stay open and awake to the world?
Freewriting is my most reliable poetic portal. It takes me beneath my thinking into the place where language is hurtling itself upstream against all reason. I stand cold and still in those waters, and I become simply a hand moving, transmitting words. The paradox is that as I become more connected, I also disappear. In this way, freewriting has become my spiritual practice.
5. Any advice to writers working on their first book manuscripts?
Yes. Read Christina Katz's Get Known Before the Book Deal. Your fabulous manuscript will have a far better chance of becoming a book if you understand what a platform is and how it can benefit you -- and then start creating one (or enhancing the one you already have) now.
Thanks, Marla. I've enjoyed this interview. Wishing you and your readers a surprising creative journey.
- follow Sage on Twitter: @SageCohen
- read an excerpt of Writing the Life Poetic
- visit Sage's blog: writingthelifepoetic.typepad.com
Follow The Relaxed Writer on Twitter: @MarlaBeck