Colorado Poets Center E-Words Issue #13

Plein Air Writing

The Colorado Poet here copies some observations from the blog of Pikes Peak Laureate Jim Ciletti (www.poetry on writing en plein air (“in the open air”), a practice originally used to describe the act of painting outdoors rather than in a studio.

“Sept. 28 :
WRITING POETRY: When I feel like I am getting into a rut, or sitting at my desk and pulling harebrained poems out of my cerebellum, whatever, I like to take my journal and pen and some crayons and go outside and do some plein air writing, and practice my ability to look, listen, smell, taste, and feel where I am and what the environment surrounding me is in its being. And once I find something that attracts me, I work at simple description, like I would if I were doing a sketch for a painting.

Jim CilettiIf I really connect, than I write a second draft, fill in the colors so to speak, and if I feel like this could be a poem, I ask myself, "What captured me, what made me write about this in the first place?" And that "sixth sense of it all, whether it be a sense of beauty, a sense of fecundity of the harvest, simplicity, generosity of nature, etc. Once I lock onto that, I can move into the third draft and have that sixth sense weave in and out and breathe oxygen into the poem.
1. Simple observations plein air. (Get out of your head and be with a real world)
golden slats of cedar pickets surrounding the deck / maple tree branches shading the redwood planking / cool air goose bumping my arms / air as clear as pure water / the empty green chair beside me

2. the lush green green leaves of the potted basil plant / pinch a leaf, that aroma, as one friend said, almost a sexual experience / another potted plant and the purple trumpets of its flowers / I
don't sit here often enough.

3. What is the pull: the deck enjoys itself much more than do I. So much green. Lorca's green, "verde, verde, te quierde verde." green green I want you green.
And so, we'll see where that goes.

Sept. 30:
But first a note about Plein Air Poetry Writing. Yesterday, sitting at the patio table, observing honey bees gorging themselves on the split open juicy over-ripe peach in front of me, I was writing a still life of peaches, as would an impressionist painter, and the bees seduced me. I wrote a long description of their behavior, drilling proboscises into the nectar, their black bell boy caps, quivering stripped prisoner abdomens, and finally asked myself, why are you writing about these bees and I wrote, "I love these bees, nudging themselves into this peach." And wham, that's it, I can write the second draft, third draft, drill into the peach of the poem -- why -- because I know why I want to write about the bees. I know my passion and that will fuel the writing.” (Jim Ciletti)