Monday, May 12, 2014

On the writing of poetry

I am no poet. I do not even pretend that I am a poet. I have always subscribed to the statement that there are more people who write poetry than who read poetry. I know this is true about many so called poets when I read submissions to Umbrella Factory Magazine. Some of these poets are very good. These poets have many accolades, many publications and other tangible qualifications. Some other poets have interesting words or combinations of words. Others should perhaps stick to something else. And then there are other things that someone has called a poem and yet it is something else entirely.

Yet, here I am. I'm still reading poetry. I've spent some time in recent months catching up on old poets, Anna Akhmatova and Emily Dickenson. I got to read and review Melanie Whithaus's book last last year. And I've got Carolyn Forche waiting on my shelf too.

What about the writing of poetry?

I think the first thing to do is to start reading poetry. I suppose a beginning poet can enroll in classes. A beginner can read a few wiki articles and watch a few youtube tutorials. I mean, that is the way it's done these days. But I think a truly insightful person will quickly realize there is a process, especially to poetry and begin, work and end it appropriately.

Many of you know that I write for the Sophia Ballou site. I've been in this collective for years. 2011, I wrote Sand and Asbestos a serialized novel. In 2012 I wrote chapbooks. 2013 was marked by smaller pieces of fiction, some of which became the basis for my screenplay To Better Days, and the beginnings of a new novel. And so far this year I've been trying to write poetry.

Late last year, after reading, reviewing and interviewing Melanie Whithaus, I decided I wanted to write poetry too. It began as a daily exercise at work. When I got to work in the evenings, which was after I spent the day watching my young son and a bike ride between where I live and where I worked, I would write a poem. On an especially slow night at work, I could write and rewrite the poem several times.

As this process began, I decided what I would do was, simply, to write 100 poems and see where it took me. So far, as of mid-May, I have come about 80% the way.

Where might one go from here?

Well, I suppose I could proclaim myself to be a poet and start the long journey of literary magazine publications. I cannot be too proud, that never ends well. But I know there are more literary magazines than we can count. I also know that it's the poet's job to keep many of these small publications afloat. Poetry is important.

If you want to see anything that I've done, please visit Sophia Ballou.

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