Why I Write Poetry: J.lynn Sheridan

Publish date:

A couple weeks ago, I posted about “Why I Write Poetry” and encouraged others to share their thoughts, stories, and experiences for future guest posts. I’ve already received so many, and I hope they keep coming in. Thank you!

Today’s “Why I Write Poetry” post comes from J.lynn Sheridan.

J.lynn Sheridan writes in the Chain O’ Lakes of Northern Illinois in a very ordinary house, but she’d rather live in an old hardware store for the aroma, ambiance, and possibilities. Her poems have been published in several anthologies and literary journals, a few of which are: Beyond the Dark Room, Poetic Bloomings, Storm Cycle 2012 Of Sun and Sand, Three Minus One, Four and Twenty Literary Journal, The Plum Plum, Garbanzo, Jellyfish Whispers, Mouse Tales Press, and Poetry Quarterly. She has just completed her first novel.

Find her at writingonthesun.wordpress.com, www.jlynnsheridan.com/, and www.theeditgate.com/.


Master Poetic Forms!

Image placeholder title

Learn how to write sestina, shadorma, haiku, monotetra, golden shovel, and more with The Writer’s Digest Guide to Poetic Forms, by Robert Lee Brewer.

This e-book covers more than 40 poetic forms and shares examples to illustrate how each form works. Discover a new universe of poetic possibilities and apply it to your poetry today!

Click to continue.


Why I Write Poetry: J.lynn Sheridan

 J.lynn Sheridan

J.lynn Sheridan

Someone once told me that my mind processes life in verse. I know exactly when that began.

In 1968, my father packed his wife and four kids into the (un-airconditioned) Buick for a West Coast road trip. From Chicago to the mountains, while the doldrums of endless miles of corn and soy and pavement streaked by, I hung my head out the open window and sang nonsensical songs, quiet and meek, making up lyrics and sending them along the wind for the next lonely little girl to hear and be heartened.

I was eight.

In a few days, I would be woken in the middle of the night just inches from a grizzly, his claws leaning atop our tent, the heat of his ponderous bulk penetrating every cell from my toes, up my spine. I was frozen, teeth chattering uncontrollably.

On the way home, I sang into the wind again. Not out of boredom this time, not as a choice, but to process what I couldn't speak.

That was the year poetry became my friend. I had learned the key to emotional fortitude. I intuitively sang my poems to free my fear and endure.

It was the same year I picked up my brother's old folk guitar and learned to play. My naïve poems, fraught with blunder, swayed in childlike prosody for the first time.

At ten, I wrote poetry, not as a choice but to endure the bewildering feelings after a rape attempt.

At fourteen, in school, I was chastised for daydreaming but I was too busy capturing poetry in my mind to care.

I had found my home inside words to process life:

"We Learn to Hate"

You said to love is

And to hate is

And our enemies we should

And no one should we

But if we don't learn to receive

We learn to give

As a poet, I live in a perpetual state of wonder and wander. I am a nomad yearning to package a thought or feeling or event into verse, to save it, to relive it, to share it. I think of poets as word photographers. But, a poet's lens digs even deeper.

My poetry blog is titled Writing on the Sun. The title comes from Willa Cather's novel, My Antoniá.

She describes a farm plow on a hill during the sunset:

"The sun was sinking just behind it. Magnified across the distance by the horizontal light, it stood out against the sun, was exactly contained within the circle of the disk, the handles, the tongue, the share, black against the molten red. There it was, heroic in size, a picture writing on the sun."

To me, that describes a poem. An impression appears, like the flash of a camera, it is there but for a moment and I cannot let it go.

Writing poetry is not a choice; it's innate. It enters our souls and cannot hide in silence forever.


If you’d like to share why you write poetry, please send an e-mail to robert.brewer@fwmedia.com with a 300-500 word personal essay that shares why you write poetry. It can be serious, happy, sad, silly–whatever poetry means for you. And be sure to include your preferred bio (50-100 words) and head shot. If I like what you send, I’ll include it as a future guest post on the blog.


Find more poetic posts here:


Amanda Jayatissa: On Spiraling Out in Suspense

Amanda Jayatissa: On Spiraling Out in Suspense

Author Amanda Jayatissa discusses the fun of writing "deliciously mean" characters in her psychological thriller, My Sweet Girl.

3 Tips for Writing a Memoir Everyone Wants to Read

3 Tips for Writing a Memoir Everyone Wants to Read

A memoir is an open window into another's life—and although the truth is of paramount importance, so too is grabbing hold of its reader. Writer Tasha Keeble offers 3 tips for writing a memoir everyone will want to read.

Zoe Whittall: On Personal Change in Literary Fiction

Zoe Whittall: On Personal Change in Literary Fiction

Bestselling and Giller Prize-shortlisted author Zoe Whittal discusses the complexity of big life decisions in her new novel, The Spectacular.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 582

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a transition poem.

4 Myths About Writing Animal Characters

4 Myths About Writing Animal Characters

Author Codi Schneider debunks four myths about writing animal characters, including that audiences won't connect with animal characters and that they're only for children's books.



Every writer needs a little inspiration once in a while. For today's prompt, your character is a modern day voyager.

Stephanie Marie Thornton: One How an Entire Rewrite Added Suspense

Stephanie Marie Thornton: On How an Entire Rewrite Added Suspense

USA Today bestselling author discusses how rewriting a portion of her new historical fiction novel, A Most Clever Girl, added suspense.

Creativity Is Making Small Choices

Creativity Is Making Small Choices

When struggling to work through a creative dilemma, it's best to think of your work in small pieces that create a larger whole. Author Perttu Pölönen explains how creativity is a collection of small choices from an abundance of options.

Zibby Books Market Spotlight

Zibby Books: Market Spotlight

For this market spotlight, we look at Zibby Books, a brand new book publisher (just announced earlier today) that wants to introduce a new model with book champions and ambassadors to the publishing and promotion process.