Jim Peterson is the author of five collections of poetry, three chapbooks, and a novel. His collection The Owning Stone won Red Hen Press’s Benjamin Saltman Award for 1999. His most recent collection, Original Face, was released by Gunpowder Press in October of 2015. His poems have appeared widely in journals including Poetry, Georgia Review, Shenandoah, Poetry Northwest, Prairie Schooner, South Dakota Review, Cave Wall, etc. He is on the faculty of the University of Nebraska-Omaha’s Low-Res MFA Program in Creative Writing. Formerly the Coordinator of Creative Writing at Randolph College, He lives with his charismatic corgi, Mama Kilya, in Lynchburg, Virginia.
The Jazz Method of Writing Poems
Our everyday mind that gets us through the day is, out of necessity, highly conditioned, mechanical. As poets, if we write entirely out of that part of the mind, our poems will be mechanical and predictable. But if we write the way a jazz musician creates music, then we will always be discovering something new and surprising in our poems. In this exercise, I will provide a background structure—the groove so to speak—and you will improvise within it, thus discovering new creative pathways within yourself. You will write something unlike anything you have ever written before.