by Annie Finch (This essay originally appeared on Annie’s blog at the Poetry Foundation. )
After years of living with the stereotype that formal skill is somehow at odds with poetic inspiration, I turned to satire to make my point. The following essay is based on an article on the value of doing Kegels exercises. It is published here with grateful appreciation to the author of the original article. —A.F.
This is the best set of exercises you’ll ever learn. The Poetry Muscle exercises known as Meter Kegels have many advantages. They are best known to help strengthen and tone the whole poetic floor to prevent things like linguistic incontinence during middle age. But they are also the secret to Pompoir, turning oneself on inspirationally, and better poetic orgasms. Pompoir is the art of “milking” the Hearer (inner and/or outer ears) of your reader. These exercises tighten the whole PM (Poetic Meter) muscle group and result in you having control of your poetic muscles to add to you and your reader’s poetic experience during poetry reading/hearing.
When your meter muscles get regular and varied exercise you will find that it actually turns you on poetically. You will better be able to identify and distinguish your lyric G-spot and Poetic Ear muscles. As you perfect these exercises and strengthen the muscles you’ll begin to notice that you can isolate distinctly separate groups of metrical muscles in your poetic floor, including your dactylic, anapestic, trochaic, and iambic muscles. This kind of awareness enables you to isolate your poetic clitoris, for instance, and stimulate yourself poetically at any time. It’s an excellent trick for getting yourself “juiced up” for a hot inspirational experience or important occasional poem. You may even be able to train yourself to have amazing poetic orgasms in this manner. Meter exercises increase blood flow to the poetic region, which aids in the increased flow of inspiration and helps engorge the creative area. With increased blood supply and stronger muscles we prep ourselves for better, stronger and more amazing poetic orgasms. Our lyric G-spot is directly energized and stimulated.
Men – Every bit of the above applies to you, too. Having strong PM muscles aids in stronger lyric erections, lasting longer, increased poetic libido and they help massage the Inspirational Prostate, too.
If you aren’t familiar with the Poetic Meter muscles on your poetic floor, go to the page and write. Try stopping the language flow several times in a rhythmic manner. It’s your PM Muscles that are allowing you to do this! Women, you may want to have a “base” line for your PM muscle strength. Just put a finger or two into your poem, squeeze and feel how strong your PM muscles are now. Read your poem aloud to do this easily. Men, you can contract and relax your PM Muscles a few times with a hard pen. How far you can rhythmically “lift” your poetic line in this initial test is your base line.
Now let’s begin. Sit comfortably in a chair or on the floor. Sit up straight but with a relaxed attitude. You can take a large ear, roll it up, put it between your ideas and use it to apply slight pressure to your poetic floor if you’d like more contact. Listen in your body to do this.
Take a few slow, deep breaths to begin. Really relax. Breath fully into your belly.
On an in-breath, tighten your words. Hold for a moment.
Now, on the out-breath, relax them. Focus on the relaxing. This is very important. Let your words go to a completely relaxed state. Make sure you do this after every metrical foot.
As you begin to do this exercise stay with the breath. You can increase your speed and your breath will increase with you automatically.
Tighten and relax, tighten and relax.
Try to start with about 50 of these every day for a few days. Your muscles may hurt a little as in any new exercise but that’s how we know we’re doing the work. Work up to 200 repetitions a day. You may do several sets a day if you wish. Generally you will notice the difference within a few weeks. A set of 200 Meter Kegels takes about 15 – 20 minutes. They can be done ANYWHERE.
How do your Meter muscles feel? After the first day? After a week?
Do you notice any “poetic turn on”?
After about a month, can you begin to isolate the duple and triple, rising and falling, patterns and different muscle groups that comprise the poetic floor?
If you have readers, have those people noticed any change?
You can also do the “base line” test you might have done when you started to see if you notice a change. Don’t be too discouraged if you don’t notice much of a change. This takes a little time, as any muscle conditioning does.
POETIC TANTRIC PRACTICE: Add visualization to your Meter Kegel exercises. It is a fine way to begin an introduction to poetry-writing practice or advance an already existing poetry-writing practice. Sit in a quiet place and begin your meter exercises. As you progress, hold a “picture” or thought in your mind that you have decided on before you began the meter exercise. It could be as simple as LOVE, or GRATITUDE, or the vision of HEALTH, or ENERGY moving up your spine or CHAKRAS, or of your LOVER or CHILD, or a beautiful FLOWER. As you pump your meter muscles, you will be pumping your energy. This will add strength to your poem.
Remember – Only do what feels comfortable at any one moment. You can always come back to the meter exercise. Don’t continue if you feel like you’re not really listening. It will often take almost everyone that begins these meter exercises a little while to get into the flow. Be gentle with yourself. Have fun.
With grateful appreciation to the author of the original article