Discover Your Themes

April 1968, that’s when I mailed out over one hundred photocopied pamphlets of my poetry, Ensemble: The Gratuitous Act . I mailed it to a list of people that included pop stars, poets, philosophers, actors, writers and friends. In October 2012, more than forty-four years later, I can’t recall why I included some of the names on the list. And there’s a bit of a cringe factor; I am profoundly grateful the internet wasn’t available for decades. Still, it was a first poetic effort, and as much as I shake my head at some of them, I feel enormous affection for that romantic, blithe spirit on the verge of womanhood.

Here’s a poem for now made from some lines from then.

Reading early poems

After more than forty years,

Still writing for those concerned with life, with love;

Still offering poems freely, as a gift;

Still wanting to taste, savour and enjoy each moment to the full;

Still subject to the restless, gusty winds of mind’s night;

Still listening for my own song rising from deep within;

Still know love, dying, can find resurrection in another’s face;

Still know feeling has power beyond the passing day’s ability to define;

Still marvel at that love holds the key to unlock treasure in each moment;

Still see love doesn’t shield us from life’s woes, only makes them more bearable;

Still spellbound by the glory of each soul’s light.

Reviewing early work; finding life themes

I’ve kept journals and written scraps of poetry, story and memoir for a long time. A friend recently asked me to share some early poetry as we worked through more current work.

It was a great request. Something interesting happens when you reread writing put away for longer periods. You are sometimes able to rediscover the one who wrote then and gain the brilliance of hindsight.

Send some loving kindness

Before you begin to read, remember what was going on in your life. Look at old photos. Remember family, friends, your view of the past and hopes for the future. Surround that early writer with wishes for happiness and well being. From here and now, appreciate the contribution of the past. Forgive, if forgiveness is needed. Now reading with a kind eye, look for:

  • What was alive in you then that still sustains you?
  • What has disappeared that you want to mourn?
  • What do you want to celebrate and name as a theme? Why?
  • What was a challenge then that still challenges you now?
  • How has your understanding of the challenge changed?
  • What were you learning then?
  • What advice or encouragement do you have for yourself then?
  • What are you learning now?
  • Does your earlier self have any advice for you now?

Join the conversation: How do you discover the themes or questions that you carry through your life? What do you discover when you review earlier work?

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