Become The Leaf
Both photos taken at the Botanical Gardens in San Francisco
My high school creative writing instructor said three little words that have stayed with me throughout my writing life. He said "become the leaf." To put it in perspective, if when walking down the street or in a park you see a leaf, in order to adequately describe the leaf you must become the leaf. Simply describing its' color, where it resides or what it represents, is not enough. You have to embody the object you see to express poetic verse.
It is much easier to simply describe an object however when you allow yourself to become the object whether a person, place or thing, your writing takes on a whole new life and rises to a higher level. It is also much fun to take on another role when writing poetry.
My teacher at the time, Dennis Parlato, taught me the basics and allowed us to write freely and openly. He later became an actor and now regularly appears on Broadway. I remember years ago having my television on and doing dishes in my kitchen. I wasn't watching the TV but heard an announcement which revealed " the role of Michael Grande on One Life To Live will be played by Dennis Parlato." I immediately ran to the TV and saw Dennis. Now it had been decades since I had been in high school so what I remembered was a long haired hippie with jeans and sandals. The guy on the show looked nothing like that. However, when hearing him speak and seeing those eyes I immediately knew it was him. Long story short, I wrote to him and we connected after many years. I told him that he had inspired my writing with that one little phrase and it took him completely by surprise. He told me that know one had ever said that to him.
Back to the leaf :) Whenever I begin writing a poem, I always try to allow myself to become the object of my writing. It doesn't always work but when it does it's amazing.
Try it sometime.