Today, I have something special to share with you all: the first guest post of this blog. My friend and fellow poet Elaine Woo, an alumna of the UBC Creative Writing department where I’m finishing my degree, recently published her debut poetry collection. She’s a super talented poet and she’s here to share her advice on fueling your writing with passion.
Guest Post: How to Write with Passion by Elaine Woo
How can writers make their words burn with passion and set the page on fire?
When I met with acclaimed writer Madeleine Thien in April 2014, I grouched that the thudding of construction and the screams of children dulled my writing desire. Hammered nails felt as though they were driving through my skull. Screaming brats set my brow clenching and ripple chips flying down my gullet.
Madeleine advised that I use such times to write. She also said, “Let your imagery do the psychological work” of conveying your intent. She recommended reading contemporary Asian poets, in particular, Bei Dao, Xi Chuan, and Ko Un, who exemplify this. Her advice was pivotal in changing my approach to writing poetry. I channeled my raw emotion into my poems, using imagery as a psychological tool.
As an example, I brought to mind some inflammatory remarks targeted at me to write my poem, “Word-Mirror.” The poem is taken from my recently-released poetry collection, Cycling with the Dragon, (Nightwood Editions, Gibsons, BC, Canada).
She says through safe telephone distance,
Why is it that Chinese Persian and Indians
are always in the news for committing crimes?
My words my brass shield deflect her inflammatory spears,
Are Willy Picton Clifford Olsen Ted Bundy and Charles Manson
Chinese Persian or Indian? I ask.
I know she’s winding her verbal arm back
ready to chuck more weaponry.
She replies, They’re all mentally addled.
I mouth-mirror her lopsidedness and say,
How do you account for the Hell’s Angels
the Mob or the Bacon Brothers?
She flounders in silence her psychic image and delirium refracting
back in soundless piercing shards from my looking glass retort.
Elaine Woo’s Bio & New Book
ELAINE WOO is the author of the poetry collection, Cycling with the Dragon, (Nightwood Editions, Gibsons, BC, Canada, 2014). She is a 2014 World Poetry Empowered Poet and a contributor to Shy: An Anthology, which won a silver medal IPPY (Independent Book Publishers) award in 2014. Her art song collaboration, “Night-time Symphony,” with composer Daniel Marshall won a Boston Metro Opera Festival prize in 2013. Elaine contributed to V6A: Writing from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside which was a finalist for the City of Vancouver Book Award in 2012. She is a graduate of the University of British Columbia’s creative writing program.