Posted by: jeannineatkins | April 9, 2010

Images as Guides

Writing poems based on historical events means I can begin with some facts about people. These invite me to imagine what might have gone on inside as they initiated and reacted to events. I try to bring those feelings back to the surface, since I like to stay as much as possible with words evoking what can be seen, heard, touched, smelled, and tasted.

As I flip through pages of old books, I note things evoking the senses, then look for patterns. In my work-in-progress, several important scenes happened in January, and while I love the burst of green around my home now, I’m also thinking a lot about snow. How it can hide, covering up ground, but also reveal: tracks can be left in the snow. I’m noticing other images that are white. A marble statue. A white cat has crossed through, though I don’t think she’ll stay. Things and beings get let in, then, with a nod of thanks, sometimes shown the door. One doesn’t want to go over the top. I expect I’ll keep a swan, folded in white paper, and maybe the Greek myth of a god turning to a swan. That could be swapped for a running girl morphing into a tree.

One image or idea leads to another, making connections or landing on a better choice. Or gets cut. The mistakes are important since I tell myself I’m open to whatever, and the idea-generating part of my mind believes me, so I have to go along, for a while, with whatever comes to prove I’m totally about not drawing lines, making judgments. Yet. New ideas love open spaces.

It’s like peering into an empty teacup. You need the china, a few bits of tea leaves, and a sweep of empty space.

Poetry Friday roundup, offering fresh new poems and other treats, can be found at


  1. Hi Jeannine,
    I love this idea of using images as guides.Gorgeous references to white!
    And thanks especially for this line which I agree with but can use the reminder: “The mistakes are important since I tell myself I’m open to whatever…” I’m going to try to be as “open” as possible in my work today. Thanks!

  2. love that image of the teacup…
    here’s to your new ideas!

  3. Lovely post. Thanks for the image provoking path to a poem.

  4. It does make me smile that you’re back in “snow mind” even as spring is knocking on your door. Isn’t that always the way?
    “New ideas love open spaces.” Jeannine’s gem for the day. 🙂

  5. I love that image of a tea reading–it’s what an artist friend of mine calls “the negative space,” which has a shape of its own. The bloodroot are also lovely! (At least, that’s what those flowers look like.)

  6. Kathy, I think we were reading each other’s blogs at the same time! I hope you don’t mind if I send Mary C. over to your blog — just in case she’s taking an early weekend off from blog reading or something. I think she would love it.
    And thank you for the flowers’ name: I think you are right, though now I really had better go look them up! I spotted them as I drove, and remembered to pull over on my way home! (with the help of a stick note the stick shift thing!)

  7. Lovely.

  8. Jeannine,
    How fun. You posted on my blog today at Dori Reads and I posted on yours, only I clicked the wrong button and posted a comment to a comment instead of to the original post. I’m delighted to meet you, in cyber space.

  9. Thanks for the peek into your creative process! Fascinating!!

  10. It can get embarrassing in the real world when I have to remind myself of the month that everyone else has been living in.

  11. That is cool that we passed each other in space! That’s for stopping by and coming back, Dori!

  12. Thank you, Mary Lee. It feels like a creative month. The sun is now trying to come out after rain and the leaves are almost growing right before my eyes!

  13. Sorry.can’t seem to figure out how to keep from being anonymous. DoriReads.

  14. From Marjorie (PaperTigers)
    Thank you for this wonderful insight into your creative process – I’ve enjoyed following the different lines of thoughts criss-crossing, and absorbing the images. I was going to say I like the wood anemones (I saw my first ones of the year today and took some photographs) but we don’t have Bloodroot in the UK so I’ve just looked it up – they are very similar!

  15. This so perfectly captures the essence of our creative spirits. Thank you. Those connections are what keep me coming back to the page. I love that we never quite know where the next connection is or where it will take us.

  16. Marjorie, thank you for coming by!
    Very confusing about the names of these flowers. I think I might stick with pretty little white flowers at the bottom of my hill, at least until a botanist comes by.

  17. It takes patience and plain old time to see just what, whether something sort of planned, or something stumbled into, will bring us to the best view. But worth it.
    Thanks for reading, Susan!

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