Birds, Dogs and Cliches

May 19, 2009 § 5 Comments


I struggle with finding imagery for my poems and stories; it doesn’t come to me easily. Sometimes, it appears magically – a stranger of unknown origin, saddle bag filled with gold – but when I try to create it…nothing or worse. A cliche.

Twenty years ago, in the midst of a spiritual crisis, I spent some time with a Native American teacher. It resonated with me because I  was raised in the Southwest, where the symbols and history are strong. I was drawn to animal totems and still am. So when I do find imagery, it is often animal and yet, I don’t use it. I worry that it’s a cliche or over used.

Now I’ve found an article in the Guardian’s Book Blog, Why are poets so fascinated with birds?  The author’s guess is that birds are the natural metaphor for the poet’s song.

Which may mean using animals isn’t a cliche and their symbolism is universal. I feel better.

I wonder, do you have an animal – totem or not – that appears regularly in your work? And, if so, what does it symbolize? I’m drawn to birds and dogs.

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