Guest Post: How to Write with Passion by Elaine Woo

October 22, 2014 0 Comments

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).

Word- Mirror

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 004ELAINE 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.

Her new book, Cycling with the Dragon, is a personal investigation of family,love, culture, self, and the helpless feeling of “smallness.” Elaine Woo’s poems take the form of the words that they speak: she forms an “o” for the buoy that is a child’s safety-raft (found in the solitude of a notebook and Harriet the Spy), and weaves a poem about fearing snakes and dreams into a descending slither. Elaine’s poems weave meaning with form, writing in a pastiche of diverse poetic voices who are small by virtue of age or status (be they women, children, ethnic minorities or the creatures of nature). And like tenacious seeds they break through to reach the sun, to face abusive bullies, the pain of shyness, and envy.
Thanks for sharing your article and poem, Elaine! For more about Elaine, check out her website.