Writing Poems

Introduction: Of Blooms & Booms & Secret Rooms

from Immersed In Verse: An Informative, Slightly Irreverent & Totally Tremendous Guide to Living the Poet’s Life by Allan Wolf. (Lark Books, 2006)

There are three essential elements of a poet’s life: a bloom, a boom, and a secret room. The bloom is what catches the poet’s eye. The boom is what explodes in the poet’s mind. The secret room, with its magnificent views, exists in the poet’s heart.


Poems are everywhere. They lurk at your elbow, waiting for you to discover them. The poet’s job is to spot them—to see them for what they are. The poet watches for poetic moments like a bee seeks out a bloom. In fact, the bee and the poet have a lot in common. The bee seeks out a bloom and transforms it into honey; the poet seeks out a moment and transforms it into a poem.


Author Barry Lane urges young writers to “explode the moment” in order to transform it into the stuff of poetry. No, he’s not suggesting that poets should exchange their pencils for dynamite. This is Lane’s way of urging poets to focus their attention on a single event (the bloom) and then expand on it in a detailed way (the boom). You might say that most poems are simply blooms transformed by booms. The result is always poetry.


What, then, of the secret room? What, then, of the heart? The heart is where the magic really happens, after all. Every poet’s heart has a room with a view, an unobstrcted view of the world. Some call it wisdom. Some call it intuition or empathy. I call it a room because it’s a place that feels safe. I call it a secret room, because no one can see it. It’s something you feel inside. Call it whatever you want, but rest assured, if you’re a poet, then you’ve got it. And that’s good, because although the art of poetry can be taught, the heart of poetry cannot.

How about you? Do you want to be a poet? A poet with a bloom in your eye? A poet with a boom in your mind? A poet watching the world from a secret room held inside your heart?

Well, then, let’s start!