Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Advice for Poets

I found a link to this great list of advice for poets on Leon's blog. It was originally on Harriet's blog at The Poetry Foundation website (but seems not to be online any more).

I think much of this applies to all kinds of creative writing :
1) Write everyday. It's easier than it sounds. Make time everyday to write SOMETHING. Even if it's one line scribbled into a napkin on the subway or the bus, or a whole precious early hour in the morning. This practice lets the mind know that everyday we must be observant, that we are paying attention, always.

2) Learn poems you love. Read whatever poems you can get your hands on. Not just the classics, but those poets who are writing today. Pick up journals, magazines, and anthologies; search for the poems that break you open. Read those poems over and over again until you have them memorized in your mouth. Don't worry about mimicking them, just accept them as your teachers and hold them close. Become an expert on the poems you adore.

3) Cultivate silence. Silence is essential in order to hear your own voice. Especially nowadays when we often have the television on, the radio on, or music playing all day long, it is essential to find some silence to listen to your own voice. Your own voice is the only thing your poetry needs.

4) Embrace revision. Revision might be the hardest thing that writers have to do, aside from battling our own internal demons, because it means admitting that we are wrong. Sometimes we are so wrong that we need to start all over again, and it's embarrassing. Sometimes we only need to change a comma, but listen, every poem needs revision and every poet needs to learn humility.

5) Practice gratitude. Cherish those friends and colleagues who care enough to read and comment on your work. If you truly pursue writing, you will come to realize how enormously important these people are to your writing life and therefore to your making of a "real" life. Make sure you read their work with the same care and closeness they offer you. And buy them coffee and cakes when they return a manuscript with pencil marks on every page. It is a true act of kindness that should be greeted with great gratitude. And be thankful that you want to write at all, what a powerful art to devote a life to, how lucky we are to love such a wild untamable thing.
And of course, do go visit out Puisi-Poesy blog for discussion of poems that mean a lot to us. There are some very good new posts from Leon and Hazlan. You are welcome to contribute to it too!


Ary said...

hye there,
i dun find any message i put my mesaage name ary...a library science student and will working at dewan bahasa and pustaka in this june after finishing my degree...just found ur blog..very interesting since i also love book..if u dun mind..i wanna put ur blog link into mine..


Madcap Machinist said...


Anonymous said...

Our university students don't speak proper English now do they?

Let's not forget (6) Don't quit your day job.

Subashini said...

Wow, Anon. Take a deep breath. Go take up Reiki or something. Being fluent in English doesn't necessarily make you a nice or likeable person if you're so quick to spew vitriol over one harmless dude merely asking for blog linkage.

bibliobibuli said...

i am happy when someone likes my blog and yes, Ary I'm happy fro you to link me and will drop by your blog too

Anonymous said...


Didn't say I was nice or likeable, just effective.