“Where do you get your ideas?” by Michael BazzettBuy the Poem
Michael Bazzett’s poems have appeared in Ploughshares, Massachusetts Review, Pleiades, Oxford Poetry, Virginia Quarterly Review, and Poetry Northwest. He was the winner of the Lindquist & Vennum Prize for his first full-length collection, You Must Remember This, (Milkweed Editions, 2014).
The writing process can be mysterious—sometimes even to writers—so is it any surprise to find a tall tale filling in for a satisfying answer? It’s certainly more entertaining than the truth that lurks beneath the fanciful elements of this poem: creativity isn’t passive at all. There’s no muse to hand you something beautiful and fully realized. You’ve got to get out there, dodge the bad ideas and run the good ones down. And when you find them—the truly creative ideas—you won’t be sure what to make of them at first. Only then can you be still, or try to be still in the presence of something wild, something with the means to hurt you, something that will very likely mark you with its teeth.
Without a satisfying explanation of their origins, ideas become fantastical creatures, surfacing from our subconscious like the Loch Ness Monster. The typeface for this poem had to capture that unbounded outlandishness while remaining legible through increasingly intense curvature. Phosphorus Bromide does just that, and Euphorigenic provides a complimentary whimsy. After all, the teeth aren’t real, but the idea of teeth.