What Came Before Birth

Written for:  dVerse Poets Pub – Poetics:  Your Poetic Hum  (posted by Gina)

“In September 2018, I bookmarked an article that fascinated me. It was titled:
Is it OK to be a writer and a __________? Written by Laurie Patton.

It was “an essay about continuous identity in a world which constantly asks us to align the self with its occupation.”

The writer asks us pertinent questions about the dual lives we lead, the writing life versus the non-creative writing occupation. She mentions famous poets and writers who lived “one identity at a time and also those who chose multiple identities” concurrently.

The part of the article that held my attention was the “tanpura principle in writing”. I quote her below:”

“The tanpura is a long-necked, lute-like instrument in Indian music that sustains the other instruments by providing a drone. Tanpura players do not provide their own melody, but pluck the instrument’s four strings in a continuous loop of rich tones, to provide a base from which the soloist can draw in singing or playing the raga melody.


The Tanpura Principle in writing is the idea that much of writing occurs while doing something else, because the base of poetic inspiration, the supporting drone, is always there…….. in poetry there was a kind of harmonic listening that could occur anywhere, and in any way.

What is the poetic hum in your life? What hums in the background of your life that inspires you as you unconsciously listen while you work and live? Is the drone always there or do you have to cultivate the inspiration?

In the midst of office politics–
overworked, gossip buzzing
around me like black flies–

my discontentment invited
daydreams. Images formed
needing words. At first

that satiric sword of
blackness began to cut
a swath through desks,

papers, and voices
that grated. Short tales,
silly stories, and lives

I had never lived. Writing
courses allowed voices to
integrate with mine.

Retirement gave me time,
and leisure to bounce along
on varying writing paths.

I finally stopped my searching
at poetry, a
 form that fit me, that widened
my imagination. Purple ink flowed.


About purplepeninportland

I am a freelance poet, born and bred in Brooklyn, New York. I live with my husband, John, and two charming rescue dogs–Marion Miller and Murphy. We spent eight lovely years in Portland, OR, but are now back in New York. My goal is to create and share poetry with others who write, or simply enjoy reading poetry. I hope to touch a nerve in you, and feel your sparks as well.
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24 Responses to What Came Before Birth

  1. Frank Hubeny says:

    I like the description of office politics as the buzzing of black flies and having leisure to “bounce along” new paths.


  2. Ah. It ends on a happy note.


  3. V.J. Knutson says:

    Nice to find your ‘purple’!


  4. Gina says:

    i have often thought about enrolling in a creative writing course and now reading your poem gives me encouragement for my retirement years, so enjoyed the slow roll of your poem, taking me through a busy place, you absorbing the lives drama around you, a spectator of a play and then finding your own drone and inspiration. a lovely poem of contentment with the hum in your creative life


  5. robtkistner says:

    Loved the perspective of this piece Sara, and its sincere stinging essence. May you forever weild your sword of satire, and let that purple ink forever flow!


  6. Beverly Crawford says:

    Hurrah for purple ink! I much enjoyed your poem.


  7. Quite a journey to reach the peaceful hum of purple ink. Great words.


  8. rivrvlogr says:

    You’ve discovered a hum that is rewarding to both writer and reader.


  9. lynn__ says:

    LOVE that final stanza, Sara! And your blog’s “purple” theme…


  10. I still feel that I can write with that office buzz… maybe i need it even more then….


  11. Mish says:

    I think those of us who write are truly blessed to have this escape, if you will…this passion that takes us to a deeper, more meaningful place. A lovely expression of your inspiration….and I do love your purple, always have.


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