One of my favorite poets is William Carlos Williams. Through focusing on specific details in the everyday world around him, he creates snapshot images of life.
One of his most famous poems is called “The Red Wheelbarrow.” You can find more of his poems here.
The Red Wheelbarrow by William Carlos Williams
so much depends
a red wheel
glazed with rain
beside the white
Many read or hear this poem and say, “Huh? What?”
So before you say, “Huh? What?” try the following writing exercise to see if you can’t get the idea of the things around you reflecting the life around you.
As Williams said, “No ideas but in things.”
Grab your Writer’s Notebook, head outside and sit down under a tree or the middle of a flower bed. Or, if you’re just not in the mood to go outside, find a space in your house you’ve never written in before. Perch yourself on the kitchen counter or a quiet neglected corner you’ve never sat in.
The requirement here is that you give yourself a new perspective from which to study your space.
Now, start writing. Write for as long as you can and describe every detail you see, hear, feel, and even taste. Be as specific as possible. If you see birds or flowers, what kind of birds and flowers? Or if you see a bowl in your home, what is it made of?
What do the “things” around you share?
When you are done, re-read what you wrote and with a colored pencil or different color pen, underline and circle your favorite images.
What about those details make them work?
Then, repeat this exercise. But this time, choose a strong emotion, like anger or elation. Describe the setting again through the lens of that emotion. What details do you notice now? How do they change?
If you’d like, share your results and favorite images in the comments below.