Zaro Weil lives in an old farm on a little hill in southern France with her husband and two sheepdogs, Spot and Clementine, alongside a host of birds, insects, badgers, wild boars, crickets, donkeys, goats, hares and loads more. She has been a lot of things; dancer, theatre director, actress, poet, playwright, educator, quilt collector and historian, author, publisher and a few others. All of which I would say fit into being a poet like a hand fills a glove.
She has written several books including a book of children’s poetry, ‘Mud, Moon and Me’ published by Orchard Books, UK and Houghton Mifflin, USA. Her poetry for children has appeared in many anthologies. Zaro’s new book, illustrated by Jo Riddell, with poetry, little plays, tall tales, raps, fairy tales, and haiku is here.
Here she kindly shares her article, Why I like Poetry:
THE WAY I LOOK AT IT (POETRY I MEAN)
THE WAY I LOOK AT IT…
I like to write poetry.
One reason is because I think in pictures. A lot of people think in pictures. It’s MAGIC. It’s like dreaming when you’re awake.
And when you write poetry, you can figure out how all these unrelated pictures can come together and become an exciting brand new picture. A poem. A poem which you express with words; words which don’t necessarily follow a normal logical order.
It’s something totally surprising and totally YOURS.
Not to mention electrifying. It’s like pulling a white rabbit out of a hat. Only the hat is your head and the white rabbit is this poem that’s been waiting inside you anxious to jump out.
Another reason I like to write poetry is because sometimes when I see something, it makes such an impression on me – a WOW moment – that I want to remember it forever.
Example. One day I look out of our kitchen window and see the neighbour’s cats playing in the snowy garden. That night I can’t help it. I think about those two cats over and over. It makes me smile. Suddenly the first few lines of the poem jump into my head:
Pawed in my
People have many ways of creating poetry.
Here’s how I do it.
MY MAGICAL POETRY MIX
First I take all kinds of pictures from my mind that don’t seem to go together. Sometimes I don’t even think very hard because the pictures just pop, spin, fly, slide, bounce, and roll into my brain for some reason.
Suddenly this strange group of images are somersaulting around in my head. And nothing makes any logical sense. SO, I make comparisons – I find ways to link the images. I compare a blue blue sky to a field of summer bluebells or to my friends’ sparkly blue eyes. In my mind they are all alike in some way because they are all too blue to be true. Or I compare the sunrise to a big orange beach ball bouncing in slow motion over the horizon or to a galloping unicorn anxious to start the day. I used this idea of a unicorn in one of my favourite poems that’s in FIRECRACKERS. This unicorn was drawn by the wonderful artist who created all the pictures for the book, Jo Riddell.
And then PRESTO it becomes totally another way of seeing things – my own private way. There are a million and one images to compare and another million and one images to compare them to. And more. Much, much more. But the truth is creating poems is a puzzle; an imaginative word and idea puzzle, one which is totally fun and intriguing to work out.
I keep saying the image words and phrases in my head over and over and re-arranging them on paper or on screen, like furniture in the living room, until I like how they all work together. And as I repeat these words over and over (and often out loud) to myself, eventually I discover the poem’s true secret beat; it’s special rhythm which makes the poem sound just like it should.
Here it’s super-important to learn to trust what you like. After all, you write to make someone happy first of all and that someone is YOU!
NOW THE WORDS BEGIN TO FEEL…
MORE LIKE A POEM
(This is a page from my beautifully bruised and battered old poetry notebook. These crazy scribbles eventually turned into Comet, which appears in my new book, FIRECRACKERS. Funny, isn’t it?)
SOMETIMES the words can rhyme and that is fun. Sometimes they don’t. It depends on what I feel like doing with the words and ideas that day. Or rather what the words and ideas feel like doing with me that day.
Poetry is funny like that. You have to be open to it. In other words, you (the you you know very well) can’t always control what goes in or out of your brain. A poet has to trust that there are things they don’t know and wait for the ideas or words from their secret selves to pop out. (This is the tantalising and mysterious part of the whole thing.)
THEN after combining the pictures, the words, and the sounds in an order that I choose, the poems turn out to have a particular meaning. This meaning reflects how I am feeling at any one time. So my poems can be funny, or sad, or unsettling, or lovey, or worried, or silly, or frightened, or bittersweet, or happy. Or a host of other things as well. And sometimes really not even that obvious to me at first.
FINALLY here is the key thing in my magical poetry world. When I am writing, I know deep down I have something I really want to say. But believe it or not, I don’t always know what it is. So, I keep on writing and finally, if I am lucky and the stars are with me, I arrive at exactly what I mean to say. And there is kind of epiphany! An AHA moment. The moment when the poem flies across the plate like a home run and makes sense.And that is the most exciting thing.
To have figured out a little bit of what is going on inside me.
To have created something exciting and new.
And to have found a personal link between me and the whole world out there.
That’s why I like poetry so much – it is a wonderful puzzle to work out and the results are totally unexpected and totally strange and always and forever MAGICAL.