- 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.
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