You are a poet, or rather, you are someone who writes poetry. Either way you call it, good for you. Now, don’t get confused. At the most basic level, all it means is that you write poetry. It doesn’t make you a special case, or a better-than. The only thing that matters is the work. Don’t let your ego get in the way. In other words, don’t believe the hype. While at the same time, remember the work doesn’t exist if you don’t sit down and write, so sit down and write.
I was a poet first before I considered prose. Poetry is how I entered the world of creative writing and literature. And though these days I spend most of my time writing prose, my early years inform all of my writing. I lived for Boise’s late nineties’ poetry scene. Behind the scenes of the permanent open mic stalking I did, I was writing poetry in isolation, badly parroting the jazz of beatnik poets like Jack Kerouac, sharpening my words on punk rock poets like Henry Rollins, trying to slow down in order to understand vagabond prophets like Whitman, and being emotionally duped by Bill Shields, the liar. And always, always hearing the cadence, the rhythm, and rhymes of the hip-hop I grew up on. I learned how to write in a spiral notebook and read on stage. But I didn’t do it to be seen, as much as to see. My eyes were still opening. My tongue was still tied. I was learning how to carve out meaning in the world, how to speak, and how to be. But you are a young poet. And now it’s your turn.
There are two definitions of the word “budding” I’d like to point out. First, whatever you write now, for good or bad, when you are a “young” poet, is “part of the process of normal growth.” Don’t get too high or too low. And two, if you are serious, which is more important than talent, then sooner or later you will “show signs of promise.” Afterall, how will you know if you are a poet? Well, only dedication will tell. And how will you know if you are a good poet? Well, only dedication will tell. Talent is not enough. Trust me.
But if you are looking for some advice in this area, like an old man feeding eager squirrels, I offer you some crumbs. It’s all I have. If you want to piece together a loaf of warm bread—and at any stage, even stale bread will do—well, then you are going to have to do more than read my advice, because “budding,” implies intention of fruition. But that’s up to you.
Today’s 10 Crumbs
- You must learn to sit down and read a lot of poetry.
- You must learn to sit down and write a lot of poetry.
- You must not show anyone your work until it rejects you when you can do nothing else for it.
- Don’t let your excitement to show your lover, circle, Mom, friend, girlfriend, workshop (or gasp), your “tribe,” cause you to tear the chick out of the egg before it’s ready to hatch. It may never recover.
- Sometimes you will convince yourself that you are brilliant. Don’t believe it.
- Sometimes you will convince yourself that you are hopeless. Don’t believe it.
- Learn to read aloud while moving. The words have body. Let the poetry move through you as you move through it. There are treasures there.
- Learn how to read for the public. Face your fears. Poetry is meant to be read aloud.
- Take some type of acting, voice acting, or improv workshop/class. There is much to learn from performers.
- Don’t write to be seen by the audience. Write so that the audience might see.
- Perhaps the most controversial point: If you are serious, commit to this life. This doesn’t mean that you won’t ever have dry spells, or that you can’t also go on and work in real estate. Except for less than 1%, poetry will certainly never pay the bills, at least not more than a couple. But realize that the treasures the literary life of the mind have in store for you are priceless. Most people will never understand this. That’s okay. They aren’t supposed to. But live to write and write so that they can at least see a glimmer.
*Bonus. It’s not a bad idea to listen to lyrical geniuses who can turn language inside out. One of my favorites is Aesop Rock. The following are a couple of stanzas from his song “Facemelter” (it is mandatory that you read this out loud).
The pain came on a makeshift main stage
And sentenced to an inoperable eight-bit frame rate
For that I made a game play, reborn torn
At the ministry of information trying to get informed
They’ll duck it out and I will cease all wars
So if you babysit a Caroll Ann, be forewarned
I be the ultimate (ultimate), multi polar
Mobile medicine cabinet stocked adequate
Holy trinity, triple six, triple x, city barrack
Glutton for punishment “Super-Size” me while you at it.
Built hideous, silk of the milk litigant
Silly wicked finicky fidget the middle digit ish”
Do you have something say about poetry? An essay on being a poet, tips for poets, or poetry you love? TrishHopkinson.com is now accepting pitches for guest blog posts.
Josef Miyasato is an award-winning author of the chapbook, The Portable Manimal Fiction and the collection, The Anti-Hero & The Disciple. He has attended the NULC as well as the Tin House Writer’s Workshop. He was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and landed on a Harvard reading list next to Hemingway and Murakami. His poetry and prose has appeared in The Boise Weekly, The Cereal Box, Cold-drill, Anemone Sidecar, Prick of the Spindle, The Doctor T.J. Eckleburg Review, and The Fix.
Website – https://josefmiyasato.com/
Blog – Author’s Pathway, https://authorspathway.wordpress.com/
Facebook – @JosefMiyasatoAuthor
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