Celebrating Beginnings with New Hampshire Public Radio



This month, I'm teaming up with Julia Furukawa, Host of NHPR All Things Considered, to ring in the new year with your poetry. Send us your original poem on the theme of "Beginnings."


Beginnings can be wonderful but also daunting. This situation is especially true when we consider starting a new piece of writing.

We often heap onto a new writing moment a lot of "extra" thoughts. We might pile on second guesses about our ability. We start worrying about what others will think about us. As a result, we give up the wonderful freedom and creativity we all have in the present moment.

To help listeners jumpstart poems around the theme of "Beginnings," I offered a few tips and prompts on the radio on Wednesday, December 21. (You can find them below.)

As the Zen master Shunryu Suzuki said, "In the beginner's mind, there are many possibilities, but in the expert's there are few." Through a mindful writing perspective, we have many strategies for razing preconceptions and capturing fresh thinking. 

Let this month become a reboot for your writing.


For a beginner's mind for your poetry this month:

1. Try Moment Tracking. This is a strategy I use in my mindful writing classes.

Ask yourself, "What am I thinking right now about beginnings?" Jot down whatever comes to mind without fixing it. Ask yourself again, "What am I thinking right now about beginnings?" Jot down whatever comes to mind this time, without critiquing it. And a third time. 

Like a hummingbird, dip into your mind, see what arises, and jot it down, without correcting.

Practice this quick method 2-3 times a day. After a week, reread your notes. Select one or more details or phrases for your poem.

2. Keep paper and pen near your bed: Capture first thoughts at the start of consciousness, without fixing whatever arises. Try not to type your first thoughts onto your cell phone (distracting). Use old fashioned paper and pen.

The beginning of a new day of life, in synch with the topic of beginning.

3. Start your poem on beginnings mid-stream: The first line should either begin with an ellipsis (...) or in the middle of a sentence. This method suggests the ongoing nature of creativity. 

Newness comes from perceiving the ongoing.

4. Structured prompt: Personify "beginning." If Beginning were alive:

  • What kind of room or house would it prefer?
  • What sort or landscape or cityscape is its natural habitat?
  • If it were an insect, bird, or animal, what would it be?
  • If it had a best friend, who would that be?
  • If it used a human gesture or way of talking, what would that be?
Jot down responses. Pick the one or two with the most creative energy for you. Build a poem by telling a story around your response.

I look forward to having the chance to read your poem!

Alexandria Peary

NH Poet Laureate

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