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Inspiration and focus: Poet says the two are linked closely
Oct 7, 2012 - By Emily Etheredge, Staff Writer
When Riverton resident and poet Carol Deering sips her morning coffee, she gains inspiration from cottonwoods, passing deer or sunlight on the grass.
"I think inspiration is about focusing," Deering said. "Paying close attention and getting the sense or feel of something. Becoming something else for a while. You can benefit greatly from slowing down, focusing and writing every day."
Deering writes poetry based on her life in Wyoming where she has lived for 29 years.
Her poems have been published in Westering (Eastern Wyoming College), the Owen Wister Review (University of Wyoming), High Plains Register, Women Writing Nature, Ring of Fire: Writers of the Yellowstone Region and many others.
She is a member of Wyoming Writers and WyoPoets, which has published several of her poems in contest booklets and anthologies.
Deering said she first found an interest in writing poetry during a ninth grade English assignment.
"I was a good student, did my homework, but the poetry assignment made me stop and wonder how," Deering said. "There were no questions to answer, and no formula to plug things into. That night I sat on our front steps, watched the first stars come out and realized that some things just happen and I needed to make a poem happen."
Deering was soon hooked on writing. She has had more than 50 poems published with a few more coming out later this year.
West Thumb Poets
Deering is a founding member of West Thumb Poets, a group of six writers who live across western Wyoming.
The group meets to critique each other's work during the summer in Yellowstone National Park near West Thumb.
"We decided on the name for the group because we live in the West, we needed our thumbs to hitchhike together, and we meet in the summertime near West Thumb," Deering said. "There is no greater way to get charged up about writing poetry than to meet with like-minded poets in a gorgeous, natural setting. Sometimes we hike in the park, we laugh, we make plans, and we go away renewed."
Deering said she finds inspiration in aspens, buttes, bears and spiders, water, cows, the county fair and Wyoming wind.
"We have so much directly in front of us, like the wind," Deering said. "The challenge of a writer is to describe them and wrestle with what those things mean."
A poem typically comes to life after scribbling down images based on what she is feeling or sensing or wanting to achieve.
"I usually type my work into a document, let it sit until the next day, I look at it briefly, scribble changes or questions, update and print the new draft, then let it sit," Deering said. "Finally one day, I think it is pretty close to being finished."
Tips for writing a poem
Deering said she encourages budding poets to clear distractions from their minds.
"Go sit in your backyard or in front of a work of art, or a place with lots of chaos like a carnival or a busy store," Deering said. "Whatever the place, take time to focus on something, take in the sounds, close your eyes and jot down what you think, feel and recall."
Deering said writers should notice images that stand out the most and play with those images and any rhymes that seem to fit.
"Don't worry about how everything will all end up," Deering said. "Playing with a poem is really important."
She said she doesn't like obvious end rhymes in her poems and instead chooses sounds that bounce one another.
"I have found that too much rhyme can distract from understanding," Deering said. "When read out loud, following the line breaks and punctuation, the rhythm emphasizes the subtle rhymes."
Her work can be viewed at www. earthspeakmagazine.com/issue6.htm, www.sugarmule.com/41.htm (type in "Deering") or in "Ring of Fire: Writers of the Yellowstone Region," edited by Bill Hoagland.