November 19, 2014

How to Awaken Our Inner Neruda.

Anais Gomez-C/Flickr

“I want to do with you what Spring does with the cherry trees…” ~ Pablo Neruda

Lately, I’ve been loving the flood of poetry in the land of Instagram.

In fact, the whole subculture of #postscriptpoetry and #typewriterpoetry rocks. I adore this thread of writing, which includes a lot of men willing to bend into an emotional space usually reserved for the feminine.

It got me thinking about the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, who wove words into images that make our hearts flutter.

How did this humble poet do it?  Was it writing poetry with his special green pen? What were his tricks to capturing a snapshot of a mesmerizing poetic moment? Poetry that we return to read on days when our lives seem as tumultuous as the ocean.

How can we learn to access our inner Neruda?

Ride the waves of intensity into lyrical lines, knowing that we all carry a bit of an artist within ourselves.

Oftentimes, we ignore our inner artist because we simply think that we are not “good” enough, but we are. (Listen closely, and we’ll find an artist living inside our bones and under our flesh.)

We may not reach Neruda’s “success,” but we may find a piece of ourselves that is “successful” in navigating the experiences of our relationships, as well as the world around us.

1. First step, read Neruda (over and over again).

Neruda began his life as Neftali Ricardo Reyes Basoalto, but changed his name to Pablo Neruda in order to hide his poetry from his father’s disapproving eye. Neruda never swayed from writing, and ended up receiving a Noble Prize for Literature with poetic lines like these:

“Take bread away from me, if you wish,
take air away, but
do not take from me your laughter,”


“Today the stormy sea
lifted us in a kiss
so high that we trembled
in a lightningflash
and, tied, we went down
to sink without untwining,”


“In one kiss,
you’ll know all I haven’t said.”

2. Be fearless, and feel the love, the pain, and the uncomfortableness. Be authentic.

“For me writing is like breathing. I could not live without breathing and I could not live without writing.” ~ Pablo Neruda.

We must recognize that as a poet and as a person, we are always changing, and we must build upon what we’ve learned through our experiences.

If we try to stuff those uncomfortable feelings into a comfortable space, then we’ll probably never reach the real poet inside ourselves.

So, go for it: dive into those feelings.*

Here’s one way:

Take a break from the buzz of your world (i.e. turn off anything and everything that will likely interrupt you)—except that cup of coffee!

Use your favorite writing tools (pen or typing), and begin each line with the words: I’d like to say

Do this until you get lost in the flow of writing, and you’re saying what you like. (No inhibitions here, please!)

Now, close the book, or save the screen, and take a break from these words for a few days. Come back to the writing, and look with clear eyes at what you were feeling, so you can move onto the next way of accessing your inner Neruda.

3. Funnel those emotions into key words, like: sea, lips, cherry blossoms, hips, stars.

Neruda wrote about love in a way that revealed it as the greatest force in the Universe. He often painted an image by combining common words with emotions that reflected a sense of shared understanding for his lover, and his readers.

In the opening quote about cherry trees, Neruda wrote “with” you, not “to” you as if knowing that we love “with” another. We create a connection with our lover, and our readers. A single word such as “with” creates a feeling of being embraced, not controlled.

What are the words that show up in your writing?

Let’s return to the exercise in #2.

I imagine that you’ll find surprises about yourself in the words that you’ve penned on paper or typed across the screen. Circle words that repeat or signify a surprise insight into your way of being. Also, look for the objects (like subways, streetlamps, Frisbee, soccer, beer bottle, etc.) that come up in your writing, and use them to your advantage as you write poetry.

4. Honor your style.

“In life, as in art, one can’t please everybody, and that’s a situation that’s always with us. One is always receiving kisses and slaps, caresses and kicks, and that is the life of a poet.” ~ Neruda.

Don’t ever worry about trying to fit your emotions and words into a sonnet or shorten them into a haiku unless that works for you.

I know a guy who effortlessly writes in iambic pentameter. Jokingly, I call him the iambic pentameter poet because that is how he accesses his inner Neruda. I am more of a free form poet, and that works for me.

I don’t need to be confined into patterns to create poetry, but I see the merits of doing so for others.

No matter the form you use, always go back, and edit once you’ve finished—I’m sure that Neruda reworked his poems countless times before releasing them to the world.

5. Share it.

“There arises an insight which the poet must learn through other people. There is no insurmountable solitude. All paths lead to the same goal: to convey to others what we are.” ~ Neruda

What good is it to write something for another without offering it to them?

Certainly, be mindful with your words, knowing that some may not be in the space in which to receive them, but more than likely most people will be graciously open to poetry.

Neruda may have written in the language of love, but he also used his poetry for the people of his country during political unrest. Remember your inner Neruda is for “loving” more than just your lover, as our poetic gifts may be used for bringing forth “love” in our greater community, and world.

As we get so caught up in our day-to-day buzz of activities, oftentimes, we’ll forget to share love and appreciation for those we adore. So access your inner Neruda, dive into your authentic self—bring your roses to life.

As Neruda wrote:

“I don’t love you as if you were a rose of salt, topaz,
or arrow of carnations that propagate fire:
I love you as one loves certain obscure things,
secretly, between the shadow and the soul.”


*Remember, if some emotions become too overwhelming, and you are ever feeling suicidal, please, please, please reach out for help through places such as National Hopeline Network (1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433)) or The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK (8255)).


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Author: Jes Wright

Editor: Emily Bartran

Images: Anais Gomez-C/Flickr

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