Any professor of poetry will tell you that setting is an essential part to every poem, yet itís easy to overlook the fact that this truth goes for the poet as well. The place where you write impacts what you write, and since poetry is the language of sensation and emotion, that counts more than ever. If a poem isnít turning out quite the way you want it, consider where youíre writing it. A change of location might be just whatís needed to fit those final pieces together, to discover that elusive element, or even reveal inspiration for a new poem.
The location you choose should depend primarily on the theme or topic of the poetry youíre writing.
The outdoors is without a doubt the best place to write about nature. Sure I can sit at my desk and remember what the river looks like, but when Iím actually there by the water, I donít have to. Itís all spread out before meĖ everything I remember and some things I donít. I can study the exact way the sunlight glances off the waterĖ flashing like a mirror? Or glimmering like silver? The smells surround meĖ water, grass, mud, maybe a whiff of rotted fish, something I hadnít thought of inside, but now might add to give depth to the mood and realism of the poem.
If youíre going to describe a rose, have one in front of you to look at. If youíre writing about your garden, go out to the middle of it and sit down. Soak in the sensation of the blooms pressed in close around you, the hum of the bees and insects, the feel of the sunlight on your skin. Still your thoughts, breathe deeply. What do you see, hear, smell, feel, taste? Make notes, write it down, and youíll find the images come across much stronger than before, as though the essence of your surroundings had soaked into the paper.
This is not to say that you should do all your writing outside, however. Even the most dedicated poet neednít stand out in the rain for more than a few minutes to understand the sensation, and why sit on a bumpy rock when you have a perfectly cushioned chair waiting inside? If your poem isnít about the great outdoors, an indoor nook will serve you just as well. Again, the topic of your poem comes into focus. A poem about family ties or relationships could be well written among the surroundings of your own familyís belongings and household clamor. Visiting your childhood home, or sitting down again behind the desk in a classroom may bring memories rushing back, ripe for writing. What better way to understand the solemn silence of a church than to sit in the pews and breathe it in? Just as with writing outdoors, let the sights, smells, feels and tastes come to you. Sit still and experience them. Think about the emotions they raise, the memories they reveal. Then put pen to paper and write about it.