A Poetry Exercise for Keeping in Shape

By April Bulmer

Creativity is like a muscle–it gets bigger and stronger with use.

Modern Mantras
Baron’s Educational Series Inc.

One way to practice a regular writing regime is to research the lives of historical, mythological or Biblical figures. Celebrating the achievements of such characters is an easy way to increase the weight of your poems. Their stories are often circulating in our collective unconscious and breathe with life. And they pulse with heart when we also exercise high-impact language and imagery.

I recently Googled the explorer Juan Ponce de Leon after experiencing a dream about him. I learned that he discovered and named Florida on a quest to bathe in the Fountain of Youth:

Ponce de León

At night, in the hull of the ship
I dream of the Fountain of Youth
in the mythical land of Bimini.
My body, a new root, blooms.
My face soft as orchid.
The waters wash the blue
from my heart.
It is a bulb, fertile and sacred.

Years ago, Serengeti Press published my chapbook “Oh My Goddess” which the poet and reviewer, John B. Lee,
described as a place where Freya, Norse Goddess of Love, Pilate’s Wife, Mary Mother of Christ, Elizabeth, Mother of John the Baptist, Cinderella or the Witch at Endor could delight in the roots of the earth-born soul and the needs of the body:

Elizabeth, Mother of John the Baptist

Gabriel’s perfect mouth a trumpet, a sudden tune: fear
not, Zechariah, your wife shall bear a son and he will
make ready a people prepared for the Messiah. My
husband’s eyes stuttered remembering my old breasts,
their abandoned croon. He would not believe, shouted no.
The angel’s anger a taut bow: Zechariah stumbled mute
from the temple. His tongue quivered, his hands too, still
dusty with incense. When he touched me he could not call
my name, could not touch and say Elizabeth, my wife
yes. My bones were slim canes, my hair thin as breath,
and my woman’s blood only a memory, a dark shadow in
the shallow valley of my womb. But I dreamed a pool of
water and the boy leapt in me–a weight we carried like
jugs from the river. When the waters shifted, I laboured
and brought forth. Days later at the briss, our son’s
name–John–fell like a drop of rain from Zechariah’s
dry tongue.

Why not increase your flexibility? Create your own list of significant figures and pump some serious weight!

Image: prozac1 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


April Bulmer has had six books and four chapbooks published. She holds three Masters Degrees in creative writing, religious studies and theological studies. She was born and raised in Toronto, but has lived in Cambridge for 15 years. Many of her books are available at aprilb(at)golden.net.

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