When the procrastination feels impossible to fight, there’s one little exercise that does not fail me. Since I couldn’t seem to make myself do anything else this week, I pasted up a poem in my art journal. For this to work, I have to have some backgrounds already made, so I can choose one to use for my poem when it’s ready. I had been playing with acrylic paint on a few pages, applying it with brushes and bubble wrap and an old credit card, so that step was already done. To begin a pasted poem, I needed to bring out my little box of words.
It used to be a coffee can, but I transformed it into a tool of the pasted poetry trade by pasting pretty paper and appropriate words on the outside and putting lots of little words on the inside. Sometimes it feels fun and meditative for me to sit with stacks of magazines or junk mail and cut out words to put in this can. A lot of them are single words, but sometimes a phrase will catch my eye and I’ll throw that into the can, too. When I’m really stuck for something to do and it feels as if all the creativity has drained out of me, I dump my can of words out on a table and I paste up a poem.
I start putting the words that don’t move me back into the can, stopping every second or two to put a word into one of two piles. The most important one is for words that do move me at that particular time. I do this very quickly, so I won’t over-think it. This is not about analyzing and carefully composing; it’s about letting my intuition speak. The other pile is for words that are not particularly moving but will be necessary – things like articles and conjunctions and adverbs. They’re not very interesting, but you just never know when you might need an “and”, a “the” or a “there.”
Once I have most of the words back in the can, I take a closer look at the pile of words that moved me. I go through them and see if they still move me. Most of them will join the others in the can, but a few will stand out and I will start to try to form them into a poem. I still move quickly, to keep my analytical brain from interfering with my heart. Eventually, a poem appears and I decide I’m happy with it. Then I start looking for a good page, so I can paste it into my art journal.
The decision this time was based more on color than anything else. These words just looked better on these colors than they did on any of the others.
It may not be a painting or an art quilt or a doll, but it’s a pasted poem, and it counts.