Poetry–so often this topic seems daunting. People whisper, “I’m no poet,” as they shrink from the subject. But on Friday, Mary Mackey, author of many award winning books, a memoir teacher, and a poet, regaled the National Association of Memoir Writers with her knowledge about poetry and creativity during our monthly teleseminar. She showed us how poetry can open the doors to our unconscious, invite new memories, and infuse our memoirs with the sensual details we need to create a good story.
I was enjoying this presentation so much because I began my own autobiographical journey by writing poetry, and produced a chapbook long ago called Songs of the Plains. Poetry allowed me to capture snippets of memory and snapshots of moments and landscapes when I was not ready to write the stories in prose.
She suggested that we view poetry as a brief and freeflowing way of opening the doors to memory and our memoir writing journey.
Mary showed us how three of her novels emerged from the raw material of one of her poems, and told us these tips:
1. Write in longhand, a direct link from the mind to the body.
2. Write quickly for twenty minutes without stopping. We enter a trancelike state that bypasses the inner critic.
3. Poetry gets us closer to the center of our creativity and stimulates the right brain.

Mary had much more to share, and the NAMW members that were on the line were mesmerized by her suggestions and even inspired to begin writing poetry. They can tune into the audio on our website to hear the whole teleseminar.
I agree with Mary–through my own experience writing poetry, reading to groups, and freeing my imagery
that my writing was enhanced by reading and writing poetry. I recommend that everyone try it!