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Monday, July 13, 2009

Just some random and spontaneous thoughts on breaking into poetry

  • Who do you read? I know people who go to art museums and look at an abstract and say. "My five-year-old could do and has done better than that." The truth is, there's a lot of abstract work I don't like. But unless I look at a lot of that, and where it came from, I can't critique it. And if I can't critique it, I can't do it. Do you read one poet? Do you read one style of poetry? The abstract painter I appreciate understands and can do perspective and realism. In fact, the realism painters I appreciate understand and can produce the abstract concepts that underlie it. The same is true with poetry. If you can't see what there is that connects Billy Collins, Alan Ginsburg, Ezra Pound, John Milton, John Keats, and Timothy Steele, you need to read more.
  • Why do you want to write poetry? Do you have a vision to share? Or are you writing in your diary with broken lines? The point is poetry is an art form. If you want to become a poet, if you want to be read by other people, please make it because you want to share what you see. And to share, you have to be aware of an audience.
  • How resilient are you? Poetry is an art of rejection. Most people aren't going to understand you. And the gatekeepers, the people who edit the journals where your poetry is going to be published, aren't even most people. And the natural response to rejection is to become imitative. When you do, you've destroyed your reason for being a poet.


  1. I remember when I took literature in college. My professor told me I was too logical for poetry. I just didn't get most of it. I still don't. If it's not too deep I can follow along. I didn't have a problem with algebra and statistics. Go figure.

    Have a terrific day. :)

  2. "And the natural response to rejection is to become imitative." Brilliant. Good post Grandpa. I think I'll post a poem :)

  3. Hey, Sandee.

    I had a professor in a poetry workshop who gave me an A, but then told me the problem with my poetry was I think too much. You've got to know when to stop listening to professors. Your comedy shows your poeticism.

  4. "Most people aren't going to understand you"

    Grandpa...I don't need to write poetry to understand the meaning of that! :)

    Peace - Rene

  5. I read a lot of Donald Hall, Billy Collins, Seamus Heaney, Janet Frame, Wendy Cope, Wallace Stevens, Richard Wilbur and Edna St. Vincent Millay, to name a few. I adore poetry as an artform. Hey, I made it through studying art, and my pieces juried, so I think I can handle rejection. Great pointers, GP. Thank you.

  6. Wise words, Grandpa. I feel as though the reasons you give for writing poetry can be applied to almost any field.

    It's got me really thinking though. I've been struggling over pursuing a degree in literature and writing, and your post was able to put into words something I've struggled with for a long time. The "why."

    Always a pleasure reading your blog.


  7. Great lesson from a pro!
    I don't claim to be a poet....just do what I can......


    Comfort Spiral

  8. Such an interesting perspective. I think that is one of my biggest aversions to writing poetry - the possibility of being misunderstood. Although - that's really a risk in any creative pursuit I guess...

  9. Hmm.. I don't write poetry.. but I do like to read it.. and I love the ones which convey feelings without being explicit.... I love a sense of not knowing exactly what.. a sense of mystery. A wonderful post.