Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The ins and outs of poetry

So I've been under the weather the last week. Just as I was getting over a cold my allergies dropped (damn Ragweed has been on a rampage). While being infected with the blahs I found it hard to focus and write. I did get a little focus back when I found some ill songs. Music is SO complementary to my writing process.

While surfing the web I did come across this article at It's a blog on African inspired writing. I had to post this for those constant excuse making writers out there (who I may resemble at some time)

Friday, October 5
How not to write poetry
Perhaps I know better how not to write poetry than how to write poetry. In the end it amounts to the same thing, but for now, I probably have more experience writing bad poetry than good. And this is my story. I decided to offer this because several friends have asked me to look at their stuff and comment it. I can't. I can't because nobody can tell anyone how to write. They can tell them how to prepare/be ready to write, not how to write. So this is for my friends who have asked me to comment their work, and for my friends who haven't, but whose success I desire. Remember, do the opposite of the following:

Write poetry but do not read it. You are gifted, and you know what poetry is. Why the heck should you bother yourself with what others pen? Write, write, write your poetry and you'll soon convince the world of your talent.

Do you think, I don't know, Langston Hughes, Sylvia Plath, Ezra Pound, Emily Dickinson, Claude McKay, do you think they spent time reading others? If they had, they wouldn't have had any time left to write their own masterpieces. Think of it!

Poetry comes from the soul. Write it as it comes, as it flows, and do not, repeat, do not change the words of the muse. Do not rewrite. It is blasphemy to do so. Poems are better written and read hot from the oven, with the feelings intact. Tinkering with a poem destroys it (if it ain't broke, don't fix it). Many beginning poets fret over punctuation, synonyms and other non-significant criteria. Write from the heart. Voila!

Listen to your family: siblings, cousins, parents, etc., because they love you and can guide you in your writing career. Who else, otherwise? Strangers may be jealous, so beware.

Write when the emotion stirs you. The rest of the time, amuse yourself with other things in life. Friends, movies, sport. Wait for the writing mood to strike and when it does, whammo! Write your masterpiece and send it to a magazine for publication pronto (see rule N°2). Why wait... but for the next writing emotion?

Poetry is fun, so when it gets difficult, or painful, stop and do something more fun. Then come back when you're in the right mood (when the muse is present). There is no way a poem such as this one (or this one) was written in pain, or by giving up something else. A poet can't be expected to give blood, to tear up, to wrench themselves when writing.

When a magazine rejects your submission, screw it. And screw the editor, too. They're out to get you, jealous freaks. Send them a piece of your mind, find other magazines, and submit to them only. Magazine editors are, after all, failed writers. They don't want to see anyone succeed where they didn't. Watch out for them.

Forget blogging and networking. Forget any sort of contact with other writers. What the hell would you want to communicate with them for? They'll just end up stealing your stuff.

Don't read advice about writing. Like we've already said, the muse is yours, use it to write and never mind what anybody else says. Don't listen to Geoffrey or Charles or Bob or Rethabile. And if you do listen, don't do what they say!

Do not find yourself a guardian poet, a mentor. You'll just end up writing like them without exploring your own potential. What can a guardian poet/writer do for you anyway?

1 comment:

Rethabile said...

Hope it was of help, bro.