- You must have something to write on every second of every day for the rest of your life, which is forever. The thing about the adventure is that it never ends.
- A small pocket notebook will work just fine, but I've found the iPhone very useful because if you are at a social gathering and a poem seizes you, you look weird writing in a notebook. They don't notice you typing in your iPhone. They think you're emailing or texting. So it makes you look cool too.
- Write down every line that comes to you that sounds good, that feels good, that feels like its spontaneous, coming from some other place than your mind, that you're not writing it, but its writing you.
- If you're lucky these lines will come most often just one at a time and not interfere with your life, and then when you've got enough of them, you can gather them together into one poem.
- If three different lines come to you on three different days, don't worry about whether they "match" or sound right together, you can put them together in the same poem or not. "It doesn't madda." Look at it this way. either your three lines into a poem, or you got three different poems going on. Either way you win. But in all seriousness, you can decide later and I mean much later on things like this. There will be drafts and more drafts before the editorial process comes in. So you can save those kinds of decisions for the editorial process.
- On a really bad night, the lines won't quit coming and you have to leave the bar or party early. You have to chase down every spontaneous line like a fly ball. If they keep coming you keep running, no matter WHERE it leads you.
- And that's a KEY point: You cannot editorialize or make judgement on ANY spontaneous line that comes to you out of the blue. No matter what it is you write it down. You are not a writer. You are a secretary. And if the lines keep coming, you keep following them, like a doe that catches your eye in a forest that you follow without thinking about if you're going to make it back.
- You'll know when the rough draft of a poem is complete when a really beautiful, perfect ending comes walking in, like the girl of your dreams sitting down next to you, when you thought the night was over.
- If you write that draft into a any kind of word document to save on your hard drive, you'll never see the poem again, or think of it again, and your subconscious mind will get angry, go away, and you'll probably never write poems again, which is too bad, because they are lovely entertainment, but at least you'll have a life again.
- Publish the finished first draft on your blog. You'll be so embarrassed that you'll work on drafts all night and day, until it at least doesn't embarrass you anymore. Then you'll forget her for a while, but you'll meet up again someday in Casablanca, and she'll never stop loving you.
- 5 years later when you do meet up either she'll be married with children which won't be bad, because in some ways those children will have been influenced by you, or you'll fall in love again, and this time you'll take the ball all the way to the hole or end zone
- The whole thing will be just perfect for a while, and then you'll find yourself back in the Kingstown bar again. But that's okay, because that's where it all began. And it gets more beautiful with every draft.
- Oh, I should have put this first. My writing juices get flowing when I read. Get one of the volumes of The Best American Poetry Series and start there. Just read it for enjoyment without intending to write a poem. When I read those volumes, or poems out of the journals like the Paris Review, I find myself almost jumping to the computer to write. It's almost an unstoppable force. I WANT TO. It's FUN.
- Don't read or write poems for meaning. Read and write them for fun. Don't worry whether you understand them (whether yours or others') Art that you can understand isn't art. Worry about whether your having fun doing it. If you don't, find out what you have fun doing. Follow that. It'll lead you to the same dance. "Many roads, one destination."
How to Write a Poem
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