Over the 25 years that I have been serious
about writing, I’ve met many poets. They all have
a different answer to the question, “How do
you do it?” I wrote my first poem in a 8th
grade English class and have been hooked ever
since. It is only in the past ten years,
however, that I understand how I do it.
Very few of my poems are planned. Many get their start in lines from my journal or random thoughts, observations and quotes that I jot down in a notebook or on my phone. Most finish in a place I had no idea I was headed.
I write to explain myself to myself, to celebrate, express gratitude, to observe, to find meaning. By the time a piece reaches you, it has been reworked and rewritten numerous times. The original intent grows and changes as I begin to understand what my heart and mind are trying to show me.
Poetry is a partnership, the product of a writer’s inspiration and a reader’s interpretation. When I read, I like to know about the author and their intent, but the real power of any work is what happens to me each time I read it. I share my work because I am excited to hear what it means to you.
I rarely revisit a novel or work of non-fiction, no matter how much I enjoyed it. But I will read a poetry book many times because it is new each time I open it. I can spend hours finding meaning or I can dip in and out for a quick pick-me-up or a calm-me-down. For me, poetry does more than incite a response, it is an invitation to explore my own constantly evolving emotions.
A poem is like an iceberg, what you see is nothing compared to what is hidden. Go deep, plumb the depths. Curiosity will get you past any preconceived notions about what poetry is and isn’t and whether or not you like it.
This is how I read a poem and how I hope you might read mine.
- Just read it. Don’t think too much.
- Read out loud. Listen for the music. Hear the repeating sounds and rhymes at the end of lines and within the stanzas. Look for the pauses. Commas and line breaks are the breath of the text. Look for spaces, what is not said.
- Read it with a pen. Mark words and references that stick with you. They are deliberate and important to the poet’s message. Look up anything that is unfamiliar and write that information in a margin or on an inside cover.
- Read it again. Allow the words and images to soak in. This time don’t consider the poet, notice what comes up for you.
- Now you are ready to wonder what prompted the writer to share this message, in these words, in this setting. This is when you ask Who and Why.
May you wonder and wander for years on the personal journeys you find in the books and pages you mark up and make your own. If you are already writing, may you continue to enjoy the fruits of your labor. If you think you can’t write, for goodness sake, put pen to page. We are all waiting for your message.
A poem has oracular magic
even if you don’t know
what that means
A poem is not a riddle to be solved
A poem is experience
A poem is imagination
A poem is free
at least as free as the poet
A poem is autobiography
no matter what the poet tells you
A poem tells the truth best
when it attempts to lie
A poem always has a secret
Laura was born in Cleveland, Ohio and relocated to Upland, California in 1982. She moved to an old ranch in the foothills above Claremont and currently lives on the coast in San Clemente.
An eighth grade homework assignment led to Laura’s first attempt at writing poetry and established a lifelong passion. An invitation to share her work at Tebot Bach convinced Laura that she enjoys reading her poems to a group as much as she enjoys writing them.
Her work has appeared in business journals and newsletters as well as magazines, including The Sun, For You Magazine, Somerset Art Journaling and runs frequently in San Clemente Life Magazine. Author and Publisher, Mary Ann Easley has included Laura’s poetry in her latest book, Into the Light: Journaling for Optimal Change.
An experienced personal and professional development consultant, Laura also facilitates art journaling workshops.
“The first time I heard Laura Miller read a poem she wrote was during a silent retreat. I immediately felt that she captured and named my experience as well as her own, then painted it with words. She conveyed something about the silence that deepened my relationship with it. Laura’s poetry is a bridge, extending from her soul, that takes you to the heart of the matter.”
– Gail Warner, MFT, Founder of Pine Maner Retreat Center
“Laura Miller’s delivery is what is most compelling to the reader who affords the time to discover her cleverness. These poems are whimsical, idiosyncratic, subtle and creative. The perfect blend of romance, curiosity and humor.”
– Brad Wright, Founder/Publisher SouthCoast Magazine