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.


Glenna Frazier said…
Great story of inspiration. I realy enjoy reading your work. Thanks.
tashabud said…
I went to visit the link. Woohoo! One good looking guy he is. I noticed that the site was last updated 12 years ago. He needs to post a new photo, I think.

Anyway, I'm a newbie writer. However, when I get really into my writing, I feel as though I'm that character in my novel. When that happens, it really shows in my writing. So I think I know what you and Dennis mean.

Ann said…
Great story. How cool is that the way you found him after all those years.
RNSANE said…
Mostly, I become a hot fudge sundae or marzipan.
Seriously, Jo, I think that is a good philosphy. It makes you really get in touch with your writing and that is why you do such a wonderful job and why people love to read what you have to say.
Glenna, thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment.

Tasha, he is handsome and unfortunately he does not have his own website. Yes, once you put yourself into your character, the result is amazing.

Ann, I know, I have a soap opera to that for that :)

Carmen, thank you and I challenge you to become the hot fudge sundae and write about it - it's so much fun :)
Vernz said…
I write poem too, but when I don't have an inspiration I just can't but when I have that drive I just finish it in few minutes... great inspiring story!
WillOaks Studio said…
That is a wonderful expression! I had a yoga teacher who helped her students with meditation by having us choose a natural phenomena (I often took a tree or a mountain) and then "become" it...awesome place to go!
EastCoastLife said…
Inspiring post and a wonderful teacher.
It reminds me of a few of my excellent teachers who have passed on, they were good examples of educators.
Ratty said…
It's a very good phrase. I'll have to try that some time. I usually think of the leaf as my friend, but it wouldn't hurt to take that thought to not only listening to its spirit but being that spirit.
Bangchik said…
Being very expressive .... that's the key word. ~ bangchik
VanillaSeven said…
Looks like your teacher managed to go quite a distance :)
betchai said…
very striking phase, Jo. and i can relate to the happiness of your teacher who must really feel so happy with what you told him.
Self Sagacity said…
Hi, thanks for passing along the wisdom. I agree with you,I do write a much more compelling article or paragraph when I had first hand experience, or when I let myself be the object. Keep reminding us, it's not to be forgotten. Warm thoughts -
Vernz, Yes, inspiration is the key to good poetry.

Karen, that is pretty cool and it does help in anything you do.

EastCoast, thanks so much for visiting and yes teachers can be wonderful inspirations.

Ratty, thinking of it as you friend is also a great idea and you can write from that perspective.

BAngchik, exactly, I wholeheartedly agree.

Vanilla, LOL yes!!!

betchai, yeah he was very surprised. Thanks for visiting my friend :)

Self S, isn't it wonderful when you do that? Thank you for stopping by.
*MrsMartinez* said…
That was a very nice anecdote you wrote about your teacher/inspiration. Keep it up! xoxo
Mrs. Martinez, oh, thank you so much :)
Mumsy said…
I love this post! It's when I allow myself to feel the deepest emotions that the writing comes easier.

Thanks for stopping by

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