Creativity and Spirituality with Joel McKerrow

Month: March, 2017

The Secret to Writing Good Poetry… (shhhh….)

I wrote a poem today. It wasn’t a very good one. It will not change the way we see the world or heal some lonely persons soul. It will sit there unannounced and lonely. Unread by all but a small few. But I am ok with this. 


See I wrote a poem today because I write a poem everyday. Indeed today marks 365 of them. A whole year since I began this project. The choice to show up and write whether I felt like it or not, whether inspiration was brewing or could not be found, whether I had the time or had one minute sitting on the toilet. I wrote. Everyday. 

And geez so much of it is awful. So much of it will never be read again by anyone. So much of it makes me cringe. But I still did it and I’ll tell you what. Some of it rocks. Some of them have leapt off the page to scream at people. Some of it had been read and heard by thousands and thousands of people who have wept at the words and laughed at the words and found some sense of freedom in their lives that they never knew before.

I wrote a poem today and it was crap. But the only way to get to the good stuff is through the crap stuff. Indeed the very thing that will stop you from writing a good poem is trying to write a good poem. Sitting their listening to the inner critic and not quite even starting for its voice is so loud in you.


So I gave up trying to write a good poem. Instead I just write and I write and I write. This is my job. Just to show up and write. It is the only way I would have come to the beautiful and the eloquent words that were waiting to be written and spoken. I never would have found them had I not forced myself just to write regardless. I never would have been ready when inspiration did come and I could feel her moving in me and on those days I would write knowing that something larger than myself was happening. The flow. The giving oneself to the flow. Some of my best writing came out of those times.

And you know, some of my best writing came out of the days I had to force my hand to the page and squeeze the ink from it like small drops of perspiration.

So to the writer out there and to the poet and the novelist. I say to you – Show up. Everyday. Show up. Show up and just write. No ifs or buts. No critique. No listening to the inner critic. Just write. For one year. Write. And just see what poems come to find themselves at your door. It will be hard. There will be SO many days you dont want to. But do it anyways. I promise you it shall be worth it.

The difference between those who do something and those who do nothing is that those who do something, DO SOMETHING. So just start.

I wrote a poem today. It wasn’t a very good one. But I am ok with this. Cause there is always tomorrow and the next day and the next and the next and I will show up at each of them…


PS. Once you find that something magical through the discipline of showing up, then comes the sometimes even harder step, taking that something magical and working on it and re-working it, and re-working and re-working it. Making sure that you honour the magic of it by working as hard as you can upon the editing process. As Earnest Hemmingway famously stated, ‘The first draft of anything is shit.’

PPS. What got me going in this writing everyday discipline was THE DIRTY THIRTY CHALLENGE- it begins on Saturday and I URGE you to go and join in…


Today I think of the women…

I think of the woman who birthed and held and raised this man.

I think of the woman who gave this man her hand and her strength and her forgiveness. And still does so. Everyday.

I think of the woman my daughter shall be.

I think of the woman to whom I spoke this morning who spent the last fifteen years as a carer for her husband and now begins the slow remaking of everything.

I think of the slave woman and the beaten woman and the raped woman and the broken woman.

I think of the strong woman and the brave woman and the resilient and the fighting.

I think of the mother of my children. I think of the single mother. I think of every mother.

I think of miscarriage. I think of the barren.

I think of the Suffragettes.

I think of the witch trials and the burning.

I think of Gran carting sacks of bananas and Nanna making machine guns in war.

I think of baby girls tossed into rubbish piles.

I think of the native woman shot through by the cock of colonialism.

I think of the woman told that she should not have walked by herself that night and certainly not with that clothing.

I think of the lonely.

I think of the lesbian Christian. The bi-sexual. The queer.

I think of she who should be a leader, but was told that her place was to ever only be the kitchen, or the bedroom or the birthing suite.

I think of the woman held down, in a chair, held down.

I think of the widow. I think of the divorced.

I think of sex-slaves and of those twelve steps that led her to the bottom of that basement.

I think of the razor that falls from the scarred legs of teenage shame and the burning throat of trying to vomit out the pain.

I think of the girl without a name, or a name forgotten, or a name that was lost when they sold her off to marry a stranger that did not know her though he was twice her age.

I think of women elders, the champions of their people, those who show us how to live out of deep compassion when our egos get in the way.

I think of bossy bitches and sluts and skanks and arm-candy and bimbos and damaged goods and catfights and the stroppy and moody and hormonal and frigid and prudish and ice-queens and ball-busters and how we always label that which threatens us the most.

I think of ‘Working Mothers’ and why I am not called a ‘Working Father’.

I think of groping and cat-calling and wolf-whistling and the rating of looks and the baiting of hooks made of date drugs and manipulation.

I think of fear.

I think of looking over the shoulder, of crossing the street, of all the things that I never have to do.

I think of cleaners and receptionists and centrefold models and checkout-chicks and lap-dancers and AFL players and CEO’s and doctors and firefighters and plumbers and builders and surfers and scientists and teachers. I think of the gap between what HE gets paid compared to what SHE gets paid.

I think of the poets. Those women whose voices burn like fire.

I think of feminism. I think of Emma Watson. I think of freedom of choice. I think of the freedom to decide ones own fate. I think of freedom.

I think of God. Mother God.

And I think of my daughter.

I think of my daughter.

I think of my daughter.

My daughter.

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Super Hero

Too often I set myself to a pace
that is only designed
for super heroes.
There is some part of me
that fears I cannot fix the world
before time runs out
and so I push
and I push
and in the push
I realise perhaps,
I am just trying to fix myself.