on poetry

June 20, 2022

“I write something every day. It might be a line of a poem. It might be a line of a song. It might be a sentence of a lecture. It might be a response to a question. Each takes a long time. I have no facility with language. I work hard at every sentence. Including this one. I’m still working on it!”
Paul Muldoon
(b. June 20, 1951)

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on poetry

June 16, 2022

“I have forced myself to begin writing when I’ve been utterly exhausted, when I’ve felt my soul as thin as a playing card…and somehow the activity of writing changes everything.”
Joyce Carol Oates
(b. June 16, 1938)

on poetry

February 18, 2022

“I always said I’m a teacher who writes or an editor who writes. But I never said the real thing until after I’d written a third book. It’s the sort of thing that women frequently do. They sort of need permission to tell themselves that this is the work they do.”
Toni Morrison
(February 18, 1931 – August 5, 2019)

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quote from the documentary film “Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am”

on poetry

February 6, 2022

“That poem, ‘from organic acts,’ actually continues in several of my books, so, in a sense, they are never ‘complete.’ But in terms of knowing when a poem is ‘ocean-ready’ (publishable), it’s usually when the words can carry the story across silence and when the form can carry the content across to the reader. It’s an intuitive process.”
Craig Santos Perez
(b. February 6, 1980)

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from organic acts

on poetry

November 4, 2021


“Poems have a different music from ordinary language, and every poem has a different kind of music of necessity, and that’s, in a way, the hardest thing about writing poetry is waiting for that music, and sometimes you never know if it’s going to come.”
C.K. Williams
(November 4, 1936 – September 20, 2015)

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the poems of November

October 25, 2021

November (coming up before you know it) is National Novel Writing Month: NaNoWriMo. Each November since 1999, NaNoWriMo has put forth a challenge: write 50,000 words of a novel in thirty days. More than half a million people participated in 2020.

But not all of them were writing novels. Some were writing poetry.

Fifty thousand words of poetry would be a lot (approximately 1666 a day). (For reference, Wordsworth’s “Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood” is about 1400 words.)

But the poet’s goal does not need to be a word count. It could be to write a poem each day (as during National Poetry Month), to complete enough poems for a chapbook, to write a series of poems on a theme, or to explore a different form each day. It could also be a time to rediscover and edit previously written poems.

November is right around the corner. What will you make of it?

For prompts, structure, accountability, and encouragement, sign up at NaNoWriMo (it’s free).

on poetry

October 2, 2021

“If I’m writing a long book, I stick only to that — unless a poem happens to come along. (I always stop everything for a poem.)”
Diana Hendry
(b. October 2, 1941)

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on poetry

September 13, 2021

“You must have strong self-discipline. You are working alone. No one is employing you. No one is around to give you the sack if you don’t turn up for work, or to tick you off if you start slacking.”
Roald Dahl
(September 13, 1916 – November 23, 1990)

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on poetry

August 21, 2021

“The best piece of advice that I was given, you know, and I was given this by my parents over the years, for any writer that is looking to capture their experiences, their imagination and put it down on the page, I would say three things. I’d say, one, read. Read everything you can get your hands on. Don’t just read in the genre that you’re writing in. Read.

“Inform yourself. Enhance your worldview. The second thing I would say, and you’re probably not going to like hearing this, I would say read. I would say read, you know, read something fun. You know, I’d say read something that you’re interested in. Go to the bookstore. Go to the library, you know. Check out a great book, you know. You may not like the first book you read, but there’s so many more. And the last piece of advice — I’ve never shared this with anyone. Read. You want to be a better writer? Read.”
Kwame Alexander
(b. August 21, 1968)

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on poetry

August 10, 2021

“I write out of curiosity — to see what language can do at the ‘limit-cases’ of writing. I believe that poetry constitutes the ‘R & D wing’ of language, reverse-engineering this alien technology for human expression. I build anti-gravity machines out of words.”
Christian Bök
(b. August 10, 1966)

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