On Poetry, Nature, and Inspiration

This week we have a guest post from author/poet Shirley Radcliff Bruton. She’s one of the most amazing poets I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and working with. I hope you find inspiration in her thoughts, whether you write poetry or simply read it for the sheer pleasure of it.

Author/Poet Shirley Radcliff Bruton

Most of my poetry comes from my experience with nature. I escape into it like a butterfly looking for a place to land. To reach into the delicate, sensuous, sometimes annoying or scary aspects of nature is to find those qualities inside me. And, I like that. 

The treasure for me is to find ordinary occurrences and create new dimensions and metaphors. 


  • I see the angst in a splintered wooden fence that holds fast to the boundary it defines. Each spring, delicate white flowers brush up against it as if to soften it’s weathered stance. 
  • Shadows are a favorite of mine. Walking underneath its canopy, I feel the imprint cross over my body like a painting.
  • Craneflies show me how fragile and fleeting life is.
  • Tiny desert flowers, one by one create large patches of color that spread across the dry, cracked landscape. Each vibrant cluster tells a story. And then, day by day it changes and disappears.

I push into the beauty and tragedy of life as it’s expressed in nature, hoping to kick up dust along the way. 

When writing a poem, I start by putting everything down on paper that wants to come out. It’s fun to be surprised. Then I start chiseling. I spend a lot of time choosing the right words. I’m always asking myself:

Can I say it with less words? When I’m writing about something specific, is my data correct?

Sound, cadence, and their relationship with one another are very important. How does it move across and down the page? The font, and overall design are all elements I care about. I tend to think punctuation gets in the way visually. But sometimes it can be important to the tempo and presentation.

Early Morning Walk

Soft, sticky, low lying cleavers cling to my pants.

They walk a ways with me. 

Annoyed, I pull them off

make a big knot and toss ‘um to the side. 

A dewy dampness drips down long blades of tall 

grasses, soaking the ground and my shoes. 

Bugs land on my shirt and buzz in my ears. 

They want in. I itch. 

Waving my hands in front of my eyes and mouth 

I keep the gnats at bay. 

Six long years of drought 

and then, all winter and spring it rained. 

Wealth is all around me. I should be full of joy. 

But, the unfamiliar irritates me.

A lovely poem, written just for us, though I apologize that I could not figure out how to get the verses formatted properly. I’m not all that computer literate. But good news! Shirley has a new book that will be out in just a week or two, titled This N That, co-written with Debra Davis Hinkle, another wonderful poet. It’ll be available on Amazon.com; be sure to look for it! You’ll be so glad you did.

About Susan Tuttle

Susan Tuttle is a professional freelance editor, writing instructor and multi-award winning author of 21 books—6 nonfiction on writing (Write It Right), 6 suspense novels and 7 collections of award-winning short stories. She also has stories in both volumes of "Deadlines", the new anthology from the Central Coast Chapter of Sisters in Crime (SinC), Tales from a Rocky Coast, and the SLO NightWriter anthology. Under the pen name Susan Grace O'Neill, she is the author of the Journey With Jesus series: Lord, Let Me Grow (Parables) vol. 1, and Lord, Let Me Walk (Lent). She is currently working on volume #2 of her Skylark P.I. series (a PI with paranormal abilities), as well as 2 YA fantasy series. And she teaches fiction writing in both the morning and afternoon every Wednesday. Email her if you're interested in joining her class. And follow her on Twitter and FaceBook.