Feeding the Muse

Published July 27, 2012 by Elsa Pla

Today’s exercise is about going out to gather thoughts and ideas that will inspire our writing.

My favorite day of the DWP Summer Institute was the day we visited the Denver Art Museum. We spent the morning observing artwork and writing. I found it to be an excellent writing exercise — one I intend to keep practicing as much as possible. Visiting museums and such is a great way to “feed the muse,” as Ray Bradbury used to say. The important thing to remember is to write down your thoughts then and there or as soon as possible.

Here’s some of the stuff I wrote during my visit to the Denver Art Museum:

1- Questions:

What are we searching for when we contemplate a river?

How do we get lost in a world so small?

How do we get found in a world so crowded?

2- Reflections:

-After looking at “Nocturne Fifty” by Keith Hale (a painting of the night sky over a city’s skyline):

If it were not for the velvety darkness, we would not appreciate the jeweled stars.

-After looking at a series of photographs of young women:

I want to see photographs that showcase the beauty of age, of mottled skin and wrinkles, of a life lived—photographs that evoke transcendence.

-Other reflections:

I study the faces in paintings and see questions. I realize that those questions reflect my own.

Details reveal the essence of things.

3- A poem:

Inspired by the painting “Release Your Plans” by Daniel Sprick:

release your plans

from the ligatures of life

the miniature tree

the white sheets

the heavy curtains

the final grin

capture your dreams

before they float away

the rose and the dish

the soap bubble

the motes of dust

collect the broken pieces

and treasure each bit

eggshell, glass, bone

put your glasses on

and see what I mean


Last week I visited the DaVinci Machines Exhibition at the Denver’s 16th Street Mall, and yesterday I went to the Denver Botanic Gardens. I took photographs and jotted down thoughts.

I ended up writing two haiku, each about a significant moment at one of these places:

A violin boy

casts a spell on the street mall.

Who’ll catch the magic?

The noon sun ignites

the colors of the lily.

The petals blind me.

The point is: Leave the house, visit an intellectually stimulating place, and “feed your muse.” 🙂

I’ll post again on Monday. Have a nice weekend!


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