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Digital Subscriptions > Writing Magazine > January 2018 > A line to new life

A line to new life

Poet Alison Chisholm looks at a poem inspired by a line from another poet’s work

Writers are always urged to read widely in their genre. This keeps everyone up to date with the work of their peers, and with the latest trends and movements. It’s a pleasurable activity. It can also provide the readers with inspiration for their own next piece of work. Poets can find their imagination set spinning by a single word or phrase whizzing into unexpected directions, and returning with a whole new angle to furnish a fresh poem.

This is not an exercise in plagiarism; it’s simply a case of absorbing a piece by a fellow poet, allowing a phrase from it to work its magic, and advancing and enriching our own creative processes by doing so. Sometimes the magic is anonymous. We are unaware of exactly what, in a poem we’ve read, triggers the idea for the next poem we write. Sometimes we can be certain about it. Gill Hawkins of Wimborne, Dorset knows the poem and even the line that led to her piece, which is Do not be deceived by the innocence of snowmen*. This led to a new train of thought, involving getting into the head of a snowman and speaking through his voice. Gill points out that this was a fun piece to do, and says: ‘I found the images came easily as it’s a familiar subject.’ The familiarity means that imagery is transferred smoothly and naturally from writer to reader.

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About Writing Magazine

In this month's issue, we show you ten ways to improve your writing right now, and look at how to impress an editor and get your feature articles accepted. This month's star interview is crime bestseller and Rizzoli and Isles creator Tess Gerritsen, who opens her casebook to discuss murder, medicine and false memory. When you've polished your work and got it ready to submit, check out the Writers' News pages – packed with opportunities to get into print and competitions to enter, with £54,762 in writing prizes to be won.

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